EDDYMENS

EDDYMENS

5 terms to know as a technical writer [part 2]

1) API Client

An API client is a tool used to make and test APIs. Software developers usually write code to make API calls within software applications however during the development of such systems it's a lot more convenient to test those APIs using an API client.

Technical writers also use API clients to test out APIs whiles documenting them, this way you are more certain about the requirements for making requests as well as the response you get back, leading to more accurate documentation. Modern API clients such as Postman provide a lot more functionality such as automation and organization to better help manage your workflow.

2) SDK

A Software Development Kit (SDK) is code in the form of a library that makes it easy to integrate functionalities from third-party software into your own system.

A popular use of SDKs is to integrate APIs into a system, in which case as long as the SDK is written in the systems programming language, developers can make API calls without having to concern themselves with the underlying API details.

3) JSON

JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) is a format derived from JavaScript that only uses text to store and transmit data. It helps represent structured data in a text format, which is done through the pairing of values and labels known as keys. A major benefit of JSON is its easy-to-use format for storing and transmitting data. The JSON format is typically used when data is sent from a server to a webpage or frontend. Here is an example of student data represented as JSON

{
   "employees":[
      {
         "name":"John Doe",
         "age":12,
         "score":5.5
      },
      {
         "name":"Jane Doe",
         "age":18,
         "score":2.5
      }
   ]
}

Now there are different data types that JSON can store and these are:

  • String: JSON can store any form of alphanumeric text, like names or even blog posts.

  • Number: is any form of integer or float(decimal number).

  • Object: sometimes you want to have a block of data that needs to be associated with a key, so say the key is an employee's name, and you have many values to attribute to him/her you will use an object, just like the example above.

  • Array: is suitable for representing a list of items, it could be a list of fruits, a list of countries, etc.

  • Boolean: is used to represent a true or false state. For example, you can have this {"closed":true}.

  • null: is used to represent emptiness.

To be clear JSON is a key-value pair kind of exchange format, meaning on the left you have a label known as the key and to the right is the value, different data types can be used for the value but the key always has to be a string. You can get around using a number as a string though by just wrapping double quotes around it ie: {"1":"Usain Bolt"}. Also, single quotes can not be used in JSON to wrap around strings, only double-quotes.

In short, JSON provides an easy-to-use format to store data in a key-value pair format. In the past, a more verbose data exchange medium was used known as XML but JSON replaced it given it's a lot less verbose which means less data needs to be transferred over a network.

4) API Key

Just like you sometimes need a username password combo to access a system, APIs sometimes require you to have an access key to use them. This makes it possible for software systems to restrict access to API functionalities to specific users.

5) HTTP Verbs

A key part of making HTTP-based API requests is specifying the HTTP verb or method to use. For example, if you wanted to get data from a server you will use the GET verb. To send data to a server for storage you will use the POST verb. PATCH and PUT to partially or completely update all parts of the data respectively and DELETE to get rid of the data altogether.

6) Production

Production is a term usually used to refer to a version of any software that is used by the end-user, you may have a copy for testing purposes that is not available to the end-user.

7) Server

A server is a computer connected to the internet and has the proper software setup to return data in the form of a website, image music, etc., whenever a user requests it.

Whenever you enter a website URL and a page is returned to you. It's a server somewhere preparing and sending that page back to you.

The software that interprets the request a user sends is also known as a server. So it's used to refer to both the hardware and software.

Popular examples of server software include Apache and Nginx.

Instead of setting up and managing their servers, developers and companies can purchase, rent or pay a subscription to a hosting company to access server resources.

Popular choices include Digital Ocean, Google Cloud Amazon AWS.

Cloud Offering: This is similar to the concept of renting a server but engulfs the renting and accessing of not only servers but unlimited computing resources needed to run and distribute software.

Servers are the backbone when it comes to modern software distribution.