Zapier engineer publishes free API course online for beginners

If you’ve spent any time on the Internet, there’s a good chance you’ve run across the term "API,” which stands for application programming interface. Simply put, an API is defined as a set of programming instructions and standards that guide access to a Web-based software application or tool, such as telling Facebook to post an

If you’ve spent any time on the Internet, there’s a good chance you’ve run across the term “API,” which stands for application programming interface. Simply put, an API is defined as a set of programming instructions and standards that guide access to a Web-based software application or tool, such as telling Facebook to post an Instagram photo.

The definition seems simple enough, yet the concept is complex—sort of like the difference between understanding the definition of a website and trying to build one. The solution? A new (and free) introductory API course created by Brian Cooksey, a platform engineer with Zapier.

With the help of Zapier product designer Bryan Landers, as well as other members of the Zapier team, Cooksey is in the midst of publishing an eight-week “Introduction to APIs” course on the company’s site. Here’s a snippet of what’s included:

“In this course, we walk you through what it takes for companies to link their systems together. We start off easy, defining some of the tech lingo you may have heard before, but didn’t fully understand. From there, each lesson introduces something new, slowly building up to the point where you are confident about what an API is and, for the brave, could actually take a stab at using one.”

For Cooksey and the Zapier team, this introductory course proved to be an ideal method with which to showcase their vast API knowledge. 

“Some of our customers have expressed interest in API, but part of it really was to try and engage the community a little more,” he told Silicon Prairie News. “We sit in a unique position with the number of APIs we work with. Because we put ourselves in the center and work with all of them, there’s a lot of knowledge and experience there.”

And because the course is written at an introductory level, it’s ideal for a wider audience, including those who may not directly work with APIs but who still need to understand what they are, how they work and how they might benefit a particular company.

“APIs are becoming ubiquitous,” Cooksey says. “As the industry matures, API is going to be a daily part of business, and even non-technical people need to understand the concept. The course is geared toward that audience, but it goes into some pretty good detail. The hope is you’d go from not knowing what one is to actually toying with one. Hopefully we’ll empower users to go out and understand what these things do.”

The complete courses are published on the Zapier website, and you also can sign up to receive email updates when a new chapter is live. Because this first course serves as a sort of pilot program, the Zapier team will evaluate feedback and may consider creating future courses, whether about technical concepts like API or more general productivity topics.

 

Credits: Photo courtesy Cooksey.

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