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Teaching APIs

The National Convergence Technology Center’s (CTC) most recent “Brown Bag” webinar featured a look at APIs. The presenter was Muhammad Shoaib, who’s Associate Faculty at Collin College in Frisco, Texas and a Full Stack Developer at Magnit. Muhammad offered an overview of APIs with the goal of helping faculty to start thinking about building curriculum to teach APIs.

First launched in 2020, the Brown Bag series offers special topic presentations via bite-sized, 30-minute segments on both technical and employability topics. To date, these 16 webinars have been attended “live” by over 500 people with another 1200 views of the recordings on YouTube.

A white-coated waiter delivers a plate of drinks at an outdoor event.

Next up, on Wednesday August 16 (12:30pm Central), will be a Brown Bag presentation on lean and agile concepts. If you’re not already on the National CTC’s professional development invite list, let us know if you’d like to be added by writing to us at

Below are a few highlights of Muhammad’s API talk.

* APIs (short for “Application Programming Interface”) offer a way for one computer to talk to another using a variety of programming languages from Python to PHP and Java to C. Muhammad compared APIs to the waiter in the restaurant who takes your order and then delivers the food you requested. The waiter is the API.

* There are many types of APIs, but today RESTful APIs – which are designed to be simple – are the most commonly used. REST here stands for “Representational State Transfer.” The client computer asks another computer either for data or to take an action. Compare that to a SOAP API that maintains a consistent connection.

* “CRUD” defines the four different types of actions you can do with RESTful API calls: create, read, update, and delete.

* A “swagger document” contains all of the documentation for APIs where you specify the URL, the API arguments, the expected behavior and needs. Learn more here.

* Graphql is a newer API technology that allows for more dynamic requests. This is different from the RESTful API that sends back a fixed, rigid response. Learn more here.

To view the entire presentation, visit:

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