What exactly is an API?
Before we talk about how to actually use an API we should probably learn a bit more about what they are. API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface, but you’ll pretty much always hear API instead of the full name. All an API does is make data from software available for external use. Believe it or not, you more than likely are already using APIs on a regular basis.
An easy way to visualize what an HCSS API is would be to think of a package room.
You have an assigned mailbox in the package room and you are trying to retrieve something from it. You go up to the worker (or machine) and request whatever is in the mailbox. Generally, you’ll need to provide a code or form of identification along with your request for the package. As long as that form of identification is correct the person will accept your request and will go retrieve the package for you. You then happily walk away with the latest impulse buy from Amazon you just retrieved.
In the above example, the package room is the HCSS software, the worker is the API, and you’re you. That form of identification you provided tells the API what company you have access to (your specific mailbox).
You can also think of it like a waiter taking your order at a restaurant. The kitchen would be the HCSS software, the waiter is the API, and you’re you again. If you are a visual learner, here is a video that can help you visualize the exchange:
How Can an API Help Me?
Here are a few scenarios where HCSS APIs can help. Do any of these sound like you?
- I spend time manually summarizing and manipulating data for a formatted Excel sheet that my owner requires
- I have multiple software programs that hold different pieces of information, and I have no way to report on them all at once.
- A third-party software program I want to use requires me to do double entry
- I perform a high volume of jobs and am constantly creating projects with the same standard cost code list
HCSS APIs give you almost full access to the data in your favorite HCSS products. With API’s you can set up a custom-designed report that can be generated with a schedule that occurs daily, weekly, or monthly. You are completely in control of filtering out any date range, jobs, and unnecessary information that you do not want to include.
If your system is web-based, you can also use our APIs to automatically populate your HCSS products with the most current employees, equipment, and/or jobs from your ERP or accounting system. If you don’t want to set this up yourself or your system is not web-based you can eliminate double-entry by exploring DIS (Data Integration Studios) as an alternative to APIs.
How Do I Get Started Using HCSS APIs?
There are a couple of things that are needed to actually get started with APIs. The first step would be to get credentials to access your company data. We take security very seriously, and you will not be able to access any other company’s data and vice versa. Beyond credentials, you will need to have some basic knowledge of a coding language such as python. There is a learning curve with programming languages, and it will be the biggest challenge to getting started using APIs successfully.
With that said, there are many talented programmers out there, and HCSS users have been providing some really creative solutions to fit their company’s needs over the years. Our hope is that with HCSS APIs, we can make this part of connecting the data easier and more secure for your company. We are already sending and receiving over 2 million transactions per week from current API users.
Go visit the Developer Portal – developer.hcssapps.com, and get started with your HCSS API journey. There is a lot of information on the portal that can help your programmers along the way. If you need any additional help, please do not hesitate to reach out to HCSS Support.
Leave us a comment how you are using APIs or want to use them in the future.