The first complete API integration platform comparison review.
- One-way connectors
- Two-way sync connectors
- Embeddable white label API integrators
- Data-first connectors
‘Citizen Connectors’ – “Someone non-technical who can now utilize the tools available today to connect two applications to create an automated process in place of a manual process.” – Alex Glenn
API – “An application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. Basically, an API specifies how software components should interact. Additionally, APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components.” – https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/A/API.html
Integration Platform – “An integration application is the encoding of the business logic, processes, and mappings to enable a solution for a specific integration use case. It is usually comprised of one or more connectors that obtain the data from APIs, message processors to route, modify and change the mapping of the data, and one or more connectors to pass the data to the final APIs that the data was intended for.” – https://blogs.mulesoft.com/dev/api-dev/series-apis-connectors-integration-applications/
The world of “API Integrators” is vast and convoluted.
Founders, developers, and entrepreneurs are constantly dealing issues like whether or not to use a third-party integrator to achieve the API connection between two or more tools, deciding to build an integration out between your product and another natively, or simply trying to turn a manual process into an automatic one. Deciding how to accomplish your API integrator goals is complicated, but with some guidance, it can become simple.
In the pre-integration-provider years, there was only one option – to write the script that told app A to send __ data to app B, or to some middleware where it would be formatted, then back out to app B/C/D.
But today, there are dozens of options to connect APIs.
(see definitions at the end of this article)
The technology in this industry attempt to solve one or all of these key pain points for companies:
- One-way connections between two apps.
- Two-way sync between two apps.
- Flow builders to connect multiple apps into a complete process.
- White label “Native” integration providers for organizations to use in place of coding the integrations themselves.
Each of these solutions typically come ‘out of the box’ with some pre-set functionality in the form of what the connection allows users to do with data between applications. This also presents the main dilemma. Thankfully, in response to this problem, a major change is happening with these providers and the industry as a whole.
The three main options for any app integration:
- API keys and mapping – ideally, they would have done the groundwork for you and given you a UI to connect the apps via API key with some customizability. This is a pre-build native integration that just requires a slight adjustment.
- Code it yourself – this could be simple scripts to send data as is, or by creating your own middleware code to manipulate/structure the data before sending it off to the second platform.
- Use an integrator – Use one of the tools we investigated for this review to integrate the two apps in their UI and pay their fees to continue using those benefits.
When option #1 is not available, and you come to option #2, you need to consider the pros and cons of coding a connection yourself. If this was an easy and inexpensive option, there would be no industry of “API Integrators” and I wouldn’t be writing this article. If you ask your full-time developer hired to manage the stack and be your go-to resource for all things API, he or she will probably suggest you build and maintain the connection yourself. I say they will probably suggest doing the connection code in-house because of security concerns and developers prefer to use as few third-party data processors as possible. In other words, they prefer to be in complete control of their stacks.
However, the advantages of letting a third party deal with the complexities of numerous API’s are worth taking a serious look at:
- Bandwidth – Being able to devote more development resources on bettering your product instead of having to learn and configure new API connections as those other apps change their code (which happens weekly).
- Low or no sunk costs – You can signup with an integrator on a cheap or free plan and if you decide to switch options, or are no longer in need of said connection, you are not out thousands of dollars in development costs.
- Uptime insurance – When you use a credible third party with thousands of users leveraging the same connection for their own use case, you can sleep at night knowing that business has the sole function of keeping the integration up for all of their customers.
Scrapers / Crawlers:
White Label Integrators: