API is an Application Programming Interface that communicates the business’s needs to the backend. It is also a medium to extract data for research, analysis, and decision-making. Data extraction is growing massively, and globally, there's been a boom of 11.8% among businesses since 2020.
From researching the right API to testing it, let's dive into methods that will help us venture and maximize efficiency with the data extraction API.
First come first - listing down the requirements, what is needed, and how the extracted data is to be served at the backend. While checking the providers, do look into the frequency of data updates and consider the features provided by various servers with the corresponding prices.
In this article, we will help you figure out the step-by-step process to use data extraction API:-
Step 1 - Kickstart your journey by signing up!
Once the list of requirements is ticked off and the data extraction API provider is shortlisted, proceed with visiting their website and signing up. Go to a provider that has good customer and technical support in case there's a need to troubleshoot.
After signing up, proceed with obtaining the API key needed for further steps. The authentication credentials are necessary due to their prime role in making requests to the API. After receiving the details, venture deeply into understanding the API documentation.
Step 2 - Go through API documentation
The API documentation provided by the provider consists of technical details explaining API usage. With instructions and effective steps to implement the API, this manual is important to understand for further proceedings.
API documentation also consists of updates regarding the API life cycle, new versions to be upgraded (if at all any), and retirement. Ensure that you do not overlook any security constraints. Some API providers generate their documents using OAS and other such tools for a better understanding of functional interfaces.
Step 3 - Set up the platform
Setting up the development environment is vital and might seem like a complicated process. However, with the help of API documentation, you can proceed with following the instructions to set it up.
Do verify at the backend about the language that's been used to perform the task. Integrating APIs into existing software systems would require technical knowledge like REST APIs or JSON. Besides checking this, ensure that the necessary library requirements are in place and that the SDKs are installed for further data extraction practices.
Step 4 - Send an API request
An API request includes the URL of the API endpoint and the requested method of HTTP. There's a structured way to access data from the endpoints as provided by the API. The protocols are confined and must be followed as per the tools that are used to make the API request.
The tools that can be used for this purpose can be cURL, Postman, or an HTTP library of the programming language being incorporated. This will suffice to proceed with a simple API request.
The most common methods /commands to perform are:
GET - data from the API has been retrieved.
PATCH and PUT - update existing data.
DELETE - removes existing data.
Run a test before exploring the actual endpoints.
Step 5 - API authentication
API authentication is the process of verifying the identity of the user. Further, this step is continued with API authorization, which involves granting access to the API to the user who is authenticated.
To secure the API authentication, there are four crucial methods:
1. API keys: To authenticate the API request, use API keys as they are the secret tokens for authentication. There's a public and a private key to help the backend API providers identify their customers.
2. OAuth 2.0: This process involves giving access to API users without sharing passwords, following the token concept.
3. HTTP/Basic and Bearer Authentication: Popular among API users, this method uses HTTP headers to authenticate.
4. JSON web token: This process involves using JSON data structures. It stores the authentication information of API users and keeps a record of usernames and the expiration date of their service.
Step 6 - Parameterizing requests
Parameterization is an efficient request configuration technique. There are several ways to add parameters in HTTP; some are PUT and PATCH requests, query strings, the header, and the body of the POST.
By understanding various factors, one takes into consideration the type of parameters they would like to inculcate. For example, the ACCEPT header allows defining the media type, CACHE CONTROL helps filter the cached content, and many others. Weave the requests and the extraction process according to your needs.
The query string is used for query data. One keyword would trigger pages of data downloads.
Step 7 - Errors handling
For starters, it's good to not keep repeating the errors, and hence, utilising exception filters and writing validation would be an appropriate and effective approach to dealing with errors consistently. Creating logger handlers and global error handlers are proven methods of troubleshooting.
All these methods have various response types, like the client errors being 4xx code-based and the server errors being 5xx code-based. Client errors can be resolved; server errors cannot. Stick to the standardised codes while communicating errors. Once the error is analysed and troubleshooted, ensure it's embedded in the system, so that when the issue arises again, there's already a solution to the problem.
Step 8 - Extraction and integration
API strives to deliver extracted data from the endpoint to where the request was first made. Avoid extracting enormous amounts of data in a short period; this is identified as abusive behaviour and can cause certain restrictions in the future.
Once you have identified your method of extracting data, update the application code in the system, as this can be automated and followed for the upcoming extraction. You can refer to this article for data extraction from excel.
Step 9 - Quality check and testing
First extract, then transform, and lastly load. After all these steps, the data is extracted. Now, time for a quick test of your integrated solution. Check the quality of the data to see if it matches the standards sought. The accuracy can be checked by using the SELECT COUNT command, checking it, and verifying it directly from the source.
Bad records can be handled by a good tester. Try out different techniques and methods of testing. Various perspectives of testing give a better understanding of the software integration and smooth functioning for future extractions after rectifications if any come up.
In conclusion, the above are proven methods of data extraction and API usage. Do check what fits the puzzle, what language is needed, and what integration to proceed with. There's no one-size-fits-all glove for data extraction with the API, but it certainly can be tailored according to the requirements.