We’re often asked what an API is from those of our users who don’t have a professional background in IT. That’s why we’ve written this layman’s guide to APIs, explaining what they are, why TimeLog uses them, and how your company can use them.
What’s an API?
API is short for Application Programming Interface. It’s a software application that handles data and feature exchanges between different IT systems. An API makes certain data or features of an IT system available for connection and cooperation with other systems.
In effect, an API is like a website – but constructed in a way to allow other IT systems to access its data. An API also functions as a contract, establishing rules and methods for data exchange and feature behaviour, which the API provider has “promised” not to change.
TimeLog has two APIs: one allowing integration between TimeLog Project and other systems (a so-called transaction API) and a data retrieval API for generating reports or importing data into systems (TimeLog Reporting API). Each API holds several features that collect or receive certain data or present certain functionalities, as it’s called in IT jargon.
What’s an API good for?
As a TimeLog customer, you can use the Reporting API to regularly retrieve project data from TimeLog Project and use these on your company intranet or other in-house systems. Transaction APIs allow you to access in-house order systems or the like to automatically create new projects or customers in TimeLog Project. Our three time registration clients for iPhone, Android and Windows/Mac all use TimeLog APIs for exchanging data. Similarly, TimeLog Project’s integration with e-conomic also utilises the TimeLog transaction API.
Next year, TimeLog plans to intensify its efforts in system integration, including empowering its APIs. We believe that TimeLog Project should play a pivotal role in large IT landscapes, exchanging and connecting various system data and consequently eliminating duplicate data while consolidating reporting features.
We have several items on our agenda, but a key one is to focus on making APIs more accessible, well-documented and well-guided.
New integrations coming soon…
Even though the main aim of our APIs is to offer customers a means of sending and retrieving data from TimeLog Project, our experiences with the e-conomic integration have been positive. Also, customer feedback tells us that the APIs are everyday time savers and mistake eliminators in connection with invoicing. We’ve therefore chosen to continue developing standard integrations for other systems. During this process, we’ll focus on making these integration features accessible via our APIs, allowing our customers to create their own customised integrations.
If you need technical assistance or have any questions regarding the use of our APIs, feel free to contact our service department at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re already hard at work integrating TimeLog Project with the next financial system, but we would greatly appreciate any email feedback from you on which systems you feel we’ve overlooked.
Rounding things off on a technical note, our Reporting API is actually an XLM- and SOAP-based WebService, while our integration API uses Microsoft WCF technology.