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  1. #1
    Senior Member RDesignista's Avatar
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    Hi everyone,

    The last thing I decided would be a great thing to learn was responsive design. And it's turned out to be a fun sector of web design and very useful. Now, I want to be more comfortable around API languages, because it could possibly be useful, depending on what clients I get or what ideas for apps may come to my mind.

    I'm wondering what would be the best way to get comfortable with APIs? I'm not quite sure about the concept. My guess is that referencing the source script allows you to plug in data variables in PHP.

    Every time I've looked at API documentation, I've felt really dumb... or the developers are not very good at explaining the API... or their documentation is really only for other super smart nerds to read. So I'm not really sure what an API is.

    Any input would be helpful. Thank you.

    -R

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  3. #2
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Took you a small amount of time to figure out something that took me years to when it came to APIs.

    Having worked with several APIs, there really isn't one specific method other than "use one, learn it, figure it out, move on to the next". They're all different. They're all documented differently. They all require different skills and levels of skill. At some point, the vast majority will generate errors and issues you can't even Google, so you're pretty much on your own when it comes to solving your problems. Most of them absolutely suck when it comes to documentation. Some have good support, some don't.

    You're supposed to feel dumb at first...not because you are dumb (you're not), but because a lot of the API developers want to make sure their stuff sounds as complicated as possible as a bizarre form of self-rationalization, when the exact opposite would hold true (a good API would be easy to use).

    Start with some simple APIs. For example, Google's Maps API. Very easy to use, very easy to implement, very easy to learn how to extend APIs in general.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

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  4. #3
    Senior Member RDesignista's Avatar
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    Good advice, Game.

    I did take a look at Google Maps API once. Was thinking about using it to add maps for a client's website. But after thinking about how difficult it might be for him to add a new map, I decided to go with an alternate method.

    But yes, Google Maps API has good documentation for the most part. They also have examples of it in use, which is extremely useful, yet somehow rare when it comes to APIs.I guess I will play around with it and try to make something useful to add to my hobby site.

    Also, what you mentioned about developer and self-rationalization... made me think of how little correlation there is to knowledge of a topic and ability to teach that topic; the smartest people usually aren't great teachers.

    Thanks.

    -R

  5. #4
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Again, you're learning quickly what took me forever to find out. That's why I suggested starting with the Google Maps API. It's an easy way to get your feet wet and learn how to read documentation, experiment, figure out what works and what doesn't, and take things in your own direction. There are several things that Google Maps can do that even they haven't documented in their API (e.g. marker and information window removal on demand). It's a lot like learning to build websites...you'll have to get your information from about 5 or 6 different sources to get the one piece to work that you want.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

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  6. #5
    Senior Member Kayo's Avatar
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    When it comes to APIs, curl is going to be your best friend. I believe it already comes pre-installed on Macs and many Linux distributions.

  7. #6
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    How so? (Not a rhetorical or sarcastic question, either...I'm asking because I don't know and I won't be the only one who doesn't know.)
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

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  8. #7
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    CURL is a library that abstracts the HTTP protocol. It allows you to access any HTTP interface at a low level, which is a requirement for most APIs, especially RESTful APIs.

  9. #8
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Ahhh...so I'm guessing it's the non-MS equivalent of XMLHTTP and System.Net.WebRequest.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

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  10. #9
    Senior Member Kayo's Avatar
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    I just use it as a command line tool.

  11. #10
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGAME1264, post: 246992
    System.Net.WebRequest.
    That


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