API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface, which is a software middleware that allows two applications to talk to each other.
When you use an application on your mobile phone, the application connects to the Internet and sends data to a server. The server then retrieves that data, interprets it, performs the necessary actions and sends it back to your phone. The application then interprets that data and presents you with the information you wanted in a readable way. This is what an API is - all of this happens via API.
Act!’s Web API works in the same way. Whether it’s a mobile phone app like Handheld Contact, Linktivity products like Link2calendar, or even Act!’s native Outlook integration, the Web API creates a conduit to the data so it can be returned in a usable way. The Web API can also make indirect connections to other third-party applications like Slack, PayPal, and QuickBooks Online through Zapier.
As the maker of many API add-on products, Keystroke foresaw the need a few months back to develop our own API technology that would deliver us greater quality control than simply relying on Act!’s Web API, and this week marked the conclusion of that project. The new API will be called Keystroke API, or K-API for short, and through the month of April we intend to retrofit all our API products to support this new connection method.
We’ve had a smaller version of K-API in place since last year supporting our Keystroke Account Manager application, but it was limited to the contact table and one level of customer tables. We needed more for our add-ons. And having a dedicated API for add-ons is not only practical for load-balancing purposes, but the K-API is designed strictly to optimize data exchange for these add-ons. It gives us better quality control, faster response time with fixes and feature improvements, and we can tailor-fit K-API to suit the needs of our applications.
The Act! Web API can continue to service AMA requests, as well as the needs of Insight Reporting, Dynamic Dashboards, and the native MS Outlook & Word integration. By building our own API, we're less reliant on Act! to build support for features we need, since we can now build them ourselves.
Here’s a list of a few of K-API’s unique features:
- Support for 64-bit app pools therefore, less likely to cause crashes for large queries
- Faster filtering which is performed at SQL Server level
- Parameters are saved in headers instead of query string. This means you can have large amount of parameters and not run into IIS limits which require editing of web.config. They are also easier to manage and maintain because each parameter is kept separate instead of one long URL
- Has certain endpoints that are not available in the Act web api, such as getting an Activity's cleared or deleted dates.
- Performance is much better than the Act web api in general due to K-API not returning data that is not needed with each query; such as not returning data if a property value is the default value for that type. This cuts down on latency and bandwidth depending on the size of the synchronization of data.
- Performance improvement by being able to select which fields you want to get the value of
- And the K-API is support by Act! Pro and off-plan Premium customers with v19.2 or higher
Speaking of compatibility, setup requires only a desktop computer with Windows 10 Pro or a Server based OS, and with Act! v19.2 or higher. As this does not include or support Act! Connect Link, self-hosting customers will still be responsible for setting up their own publishing (for example, port-forwarding, firewall exceptions, and static or DynDNS). Those hosting with certified Act! Hosting Providers (HPP’s) will, of course, have access to K-API, as we expect most to be supporting this technology by the end of Q2 of this year (save for Swiftpage). Obviously, Keystroke’s hosting servers will be first amongst the ones being K-API Compliant.
As mentioned earlier, Keystroke and Handheld Contact will be retrofitting all our API products to support K-API, which will provide a wider audience for these products, as well as a better experience. These products include all our online Linktivity services, HHC API, QuickTasks for Act!, Act4mail, and Webplanner.