For this week’s readings, we went over application programming interface, or API. I like how the video used a waiter-kitchen analogy to go over what an API was. It seems to me that API is an integral part in processing interactions and requests online. This was something I had never heard about previously, so it was interesting to understand how interactions happen between computers and devices.
Representational state transfer was discussed in the second video, and they used social media examples like Twitter and Facebook as examples. When he started going over Facebook API requests, things took a turn for the more confusing. When he introduced parameters an an example, it made a little bit more sense — how he plugged in the parameters and ended up with coordinates.
I know that there are lots of different types of possible API requests available, but I think that how they interact and are directly used within my code is kind of the things that I am having a difficult time comprehending. For myself, I have noticed that once I understand how aspects of code relate and function with one another is when I can best understand and employ the types of code myself.
In the video when he started discussing authentication requests, it made me wonder if using API requests override normal access from one user to another, even on something such as WordPress because he mentioned Twitter posts from one account to another would be possible without the authentication.
During class this week, we discussed our midterm profiles We talked about Django, which is a high-level Python web framework, and how it operates. We learned how some people started learning how to code at age 57, so it is never too late to start.
We also discussed APIs, which stand for Application Programming Interface. It is the link that communicates the user’s request to the server and delivers back a response. APIs make connectivity between sites possible, especially in a complex set-up where many servers are connected to one user page. There are different kinds of APIs. I watched the video about the REST API, where it explained how we can type functions in the browser and an order will go out to the server and then a result will show up accordingly.
Figuring out FileZilla was interesting. I was not able to connect to it during class even after connecting to Saxanet. I contacted customer service and they said that my account is working and they are not sure what the problem is. After much frustration, I went home and tried it again on a different internet and it worked right away. I went through the instructions that Greg sent, but was not able to figure out what exactly to drag into the directory. I will work with Greg on Tuesday to make sure I have the right folders in the right places.
My final pitch is coming together. I want to create a consistent brand with the same colors, fonts, and design throughout all my platforms. This way there is an association between my name and that brand. I want my website to be easily navigable and all tabs are clear and straightforward.
I started my new job this week. We work with many departments to help them live stream events. We send them a toolkit to walk through the steps of setting up the live streaming, how they can manage it and what information they need to submit to our team. The tool kit is a Word document that we share and the manager was complaining about how inconvenient that has been. I was thinking we should create a website that we can add plugins to and we can have the steps for live streaming laid out, as well as various sections to upload the information our team needs. We can also add an FAQ section and a demo/examples section. I was debating changing my final project to this instead of a personal website. I will discuss this possibility with Greg tomorrow.
The waiter analogy in the first tutorial set the meaning and function of APIs as clear as could be. I have always maintained that the use of everyday activities as references remain the most effective form teaching. Henceforth, that analogy will remain in my mind when I see the services of a waiter. I was so amazed about the power of the REST API and its possibilities. I will have to revisit most of the explanations at a later time to cement my understanding and its usage. But in all, the concept seem fairly simple and straight forward. I have been watching a few tutorials about the powerful symbiotic relationship between APIs and JSON. I was particularly impressed with this resource on REST API concepts and examples and how to make a API request (graph.facebook.com/youtube). I tried a couple of websites but got this error message.
"message": "An access token is required to request this resource.",
This week, I was challenged. I’m sitting down to put together a list of what needs to be done for my site, because I am lost without a to-do list. Every week, I feel like there is another step to the process that blindsides me and I don’t know where these steps fit into what I’m doing.
As I began the readings about API, it began to make sense. I think all of the readings make sense until I have to actually implement what I read into my work. I know that an API the part of the server that receives requests and sends responses. I know that it is what the user communicates with. The WordPress handbook helped me to understand how it relates to my site. It could be used for front-end interactivity in WordPress.
The first thing on my to-do list is to create and incorporate my child theme into my regular theme. I’ve chosen Mesmerize for the theme. I need to do deeper research and reading into what exactly needs to be in my child theme. I know that the purpose of its creation is to be able to make changes in the theme without compromising the core of the WordPress theme. Next on my to-do list is to make a list of the code I need incorporated into that theme.
Overall, I think the biggest challenge for me is visualizing what needs to be done, followed by actually doing it.
After what was a tumultuous couple of weeks for me, personally and academically, I am starting to feel like I’m getting back into a productive groove. With scheduling and organizing it feels good to feel at least somewhat on top of my work.
So I’ve truly begun the process of starting to find modifications that I would be interested in applying to my final project. The contact form example that we worked on was very interesting me, although it may seem like a basic part of an e-portfolio, it helped narrow the scope to things that I deemed to be practical. I’m thinking maybe leaving a comments box on the page could be a plausible idea. Hopefully I can come up with a few more ideas to solidify my modifications and then from there I can put them and motion and get my web portfolio up and running.
The readings this week were informative. I was confused watching the API video, but the article helped to break down the term piece by piece. This is a modification I could see wanting to put on my website. The possibility of being able to schedule an interview or something else through the website could prove to be useful.
APIs — Application Programming Interfaces — are waiters. What does that mean exactly? Well, MuleSoft explains it like a restaurant. You sit down at your table, persuing the various delicacies available for your choosing. You know the kitchen will be able to make your order, but how do you let the kitchen know what you want? And how does the kitchen get you your food? Surely, you can’t do it yourself so this is waiters (or APIs) come in. An API is a messenger that takes requests and tells a system what you want to do. Then, the API will return the response back to you.
Real API examples are third-party travel sites. When you use services such as Kayak or Priceline, they are interacting with airlines’ and hotels’ APIs. You tell them what you want, they tell the companies, and then they give you the companies’ responses.
In essence, APIs rule the internet. The web (did I use those right??) would be far less connected that what we see today. They connect the web, allowing developers, applications, and sites to tap into databases and services (or, assets)—much like open-source software. APIs do this by acting like a universal converter plug offering a standard set of instructions.
Get it? Got it? Good! Now you have a basic (emphasis on basic) understanding of how APIs work. You can try out our example below to get a better understanding of the mechanics behind APIs or watch our video about getting started with APIs.
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Side note: often on like third-party travel sites, there aren’t Southwest flights. I usually use Google Flights, so I can’t speak for everyone, but does that mean Southwest doesn’t allow third-party access to their APIs? And what would be the motive for doing so?
I’ve had some experience working with software developers and implementation specialists who have explained the benefits of an API. When I worked at Oracle as a Human Capital Management Account Representative, our selling point was Oracle’s open-API standard, or the fact that our applications could talk to virtually anything. In completing the readings from Free Code Camp and WordPress, I was able to get a better understanding of how APIs are used outside of the enterprise software sphere and are used every day by people like you and me. In the past, I’ve heard about REST APIs, but I don’t understand their importance? How would using a REST API on our WordPress site be beneficial to our page? Or, how would this practically translate to our final project?
Update on Final Project:
I’ve finally started working on my final project. It’s been intimidating to say the least. I’ve done all of my work on my local server and haven’t attempted to move anything to the Filezilla application. Should I be actively syncing these two together?
I’ve separately created a CSS file of tweaks that I want to make, but how do I incorporate this into the existing code? Should I create a separate CSS file within my child-theme and have it run last?
My biggest concern is updating the plugins that I wanted to incorporate. How do we do this? Is there a ‘how-to’ document that you’ve found particularly useful online that we should try to follow?
Additional overarching questions:
- If we are adding HTML, CSS, PHP, etc. to our WordPress site, do we create separate files for these? Where should we be updating the code?
As the final project approaches, I’m realizing how much more time I need to dedicate to the project. I’m starting to think that my final pitch post may have been over ambitious…only time will tell.
This week I spent a lot of time trying to create a custom form for my site and thus far have not been able to get the form to function properly. One struggle I keep running into is that I update the code in Sublime, but given that it is not showing on my site, I can’t figure out where the errors are or what the right next step would be to fix the plugin. I’m not in total panic mode (yet) as we still have time to research, update, and problem solve, but after reading numerous articles on the topic I will say it is a bit overwhelming to try to understand what the problem is and how to fix it. I think this is partially because, first, as a newbie to the coding world, I really don’t know what the problem is I just know the content is not working. Second, there are many different solutions to a problem with code so when I find one solution, I use that as a jumping off point, but then find myself reading other solutions and recommendations that muddle my code and make it ineffective.
I’m really glad we are spending next class working on our sites, as I will be a lot more productive once I can get through some of these hurdles and on to the next phase of updating my code.
As for the reading, I thought the first video that compared Application Programming Interface (API) to a restaurant, with the waiter (or the API) serving as a ‘messenger’ was a very easy way to explain the program. The other readings, however, were a bit more in depth and lost me. For example, I wasn’t sure what this article meant when it said that “if your website’s server is making the API request, then your website’s server is the client” – isn’t the client the one interacting with your API? Is an API , for example, a separate, private page that hosts the content we acquire from visitors filling out a public form? Or is it more something that visitors interact with directly? Also, is an API something we should build on our own, or more a term/concept to be familiar with, but not necessarily something we would create?
Thank God for YouTube. Out of all four of the readings and videos, the “What is an API” one was the clearest and most helpful. It was also a little funny. I like the idea of data being carried by a waiter on a platter to and from the “kitchen”. Although I do not think I will use one for this project they do seem useful. I like the idea of incorporating something like Google Calendar into the site. How this will work and whether or not I will be able to adapt some the code are two different questions entirely. I would like to add something like a map and pin drop, which you mentioned we could do with a plugin, and the calendar attached to a form. Again, the next few weeks will determine whether or not these things happen.
Now for a little bit on the final.
I have finally chosen a parent theme. I’ll be using a cinema graph, an idea I got from Molly, where a still image is layered over a few milliseconds of video. I want the site to be dynamic and engaging. However, I will be using a regular WordPress theme. I will just be adding the cinema graph as the header image. It will not be scrolling, since running the server on my computer has already slowed my computer down a lot. If I change this in the code, it will be on of the last things I do.
I am still playing with the other planned features. I know I have not created the GitHub repository, yes, but I will. I just want to play with the code a little more before putting it up there. I want to have something a little more substantial that I do now. Don’t worry it will be there soon!