When I worked at GroupMe before starting Codecademy, it always amazed me that the company started at a TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon. Its founders somehow built an awesome group texting application in less than 48 hours! How’d they do it? They built on top of another company’s technology – Twilio, in this case – and used it to build an app of their own. Twilio sent the text messages, but GroupMe handled group formation, the interface, and more. A year after GroupMe was created at a hackathon, Skype bought it for more than $60m.
That’s one of the many examples of the power of APIs – application programming interfaces. They exist to make it easy to interface with applications other people have built. Without APIs, hackathons would be much harder. APIs make it easy to create things – to make things that interface and interact with the real world and the technologies in it. For Twilio, this means interacting with phone numbers. For YouTube, it’s with videos.
Codecademy has long taught people the basics of programming and how to build things like games and websites. It’s always been our goal to help people create things – to make companies, products, and real-world applications. Today, we’re one step closer with that. We worked with great companies like Youtube, NPR, Bitly, SoundCloud, Parse, and more to teach you how to build simple API apps. What can you do with these APIs? Build awesome websites with video with YouTube’s. Shorten links on the fly and grab stats with Bitly’s. Mash up the news with NPR’s. That’s just the beginning – we’ll be adding more APIs soon!
Programming is an amazing skill because it lets you create things on your computer. Using APIs makes that one step easier. It’s often hard for developers (even professional ones!) to get up to date on the latest APIs and to learn how to use them. Dense documentation makes it nearly impossible to pick up an API and start programming immediately. These new Codecademy lessons should be just as helpful to experienced developers as they are to total newbies. They’ll help you get up and running faster than ever.
Amazing products and projects have been built on the APIs that we’re starting to teach today. This is just the start – if you have an API you’d like to teach or one you’d like to learn more about, let us know! Let’s build something great together.