APIs for IBM i ISVs

IntegrationModernizationOpen Source

If you are a user of an IBM i software package or a vendor of IBM i applications, then API enablement creates significant opportunities for you.

In addition to providing packaged application customers with the latest user experiences and connectivity, APIs can address one of the oldest issues in using packaged software.  

Early in my career, I sold a software tool for Aldon called S/Compare-Harmonizer (Harmonizer for short). Customers used Harmonizer to merge custom changes they had made to a vendor package with custom modifications they had made in house. Many customers avoided upgrading their packages because that merge process could be so difficult. API enablement provides a much better approach to customization.

By API enabling their applications, software vendors can make it easy for end user clients to modify business processes, add custom enhancements, and connect applications together without actually modifying the vendor’s base code. The APIs create a loosely coupled connection environment that allows the vendor and the customer to modify code without affecting each other. As long as the vendor makes sure that the API still works when putting out a new release, the customer can upgrade without the disruption of a complex merge process.

This is how vendors like Amazon, Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM, and others are able to move their applications rapidly forward. They are all updating their applications hundreds or even thousands of times a day and yet the customers who have extended those applications are not impacted.


Customers are Doing this Already

We recently worked with a vendor who needed to provide their customers with the ability to connect from their RPG application to Amazon’s ecommerce web services. Since Amazon provides JavaScript modules for calling their APIs, we were able to help the vendor call those APIs right from their RPG programs. That product has been running successfully for more than 3 years now without requiring any modifications to the interface even though the customer and Amazon have modified their base code many, many times.

Another vendor wanted to add automated shipment pricing, scheduling, and tracking for their customers. Since most logistics companies are now providing APIs, they were able to add this support quickly with just a few lines of code. Because the connection is through an API, they don’t have to worry about changes the logistics company is making to their applications every day.


Use the Latest Technology for Enhancements and Customizations

This advantage of loose coupling also extends to the user interface. By connecting JavaScript, PHP, Python, .Net, or other user interface code to the core IBM i applications via an API layer, UI developers and core application developers can make changes without worrying about breaking the connection.

With APIs, software vendors can rapidly take advantage of the latest technology without the need to worry about losing customers because of their extensive modifications. Customers can continue to take advantage of all the new features the vendor provides without worrying about a time consuming upgrade process.


To learn more about how easy it can be to API your IBM i applications, visit our website at www.eradani.com or contact us at info@eradani.com.

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