Connecting the Dots

Illustration by Cal Brackin

API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface, which allows two applications to talk to each other. The user doesn’t see or do anything. This is a digital system-to-system thing and often moves information from one program to similar form fields in another program.

So, how did I go about trying to build my first API? First, I am going to give a bit of a head fake at how I tripped right out of the starting gate tossing three hours into the dumpster.

I started by perusing resources listed on our website, watching a few tutorials, and then starting with a tool called Strapi, which got me up and running in their beginning tutorial.

Terminal, code to copy/paste into terminal, Strapi startup YouTube video (left to right)

The first step to getting started is a copy/paste command into the terminal. Strapi opened up another window where I started creating my first project by clicking “create new collection type”.

I got here and somewhere between creating my first project there was an error and I had to shut down the window. The next time I tried to open create a new project with (npx create-strapi-app my-project --quickstart) it gave me this:

They didn’t cover this in the tutorial

I could find the directory but didn’t know what to do with it. With my remaining hours, I tried to go the Google Sheets route.

I started coding in the baby-steps of my concept. After a few hours, I was a bit defeated and needed to work on other projects. With more time, I envisioned setting up a trail suggestion program with a personalized Google Sheet connected to Strava’s API. In my sheet, I could input the names, distance, and perceived difficulties of local trails. I could also organize trails as completed, within training, or training needed.

By using Strava’s open API , I could track my data and have it input into my Google Sheet marking trails as completed and suggesting the next trail. Strava has a map system that I could also explore to show the data in a visual, topographic view.

APIs are interesting, powerful, and interesting to explore the possibilities of manipulating data in new ways. I’ll leave APIs here but hope to keep this awareness in my back pocket for future projects.

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Cal Brackin

Cal Brackin

Illustrator & Designer at CMCI Studio