Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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Coding Novice, APIs, and PowerShell


I learn a latest submit on the technical writing subreddit, “How proficient in coding do you must be to write down API Documentation?” I jumped in and posted, as expertise is my jam, and writing is my ardour. Possibly it’ll be my jam too, sometime.

The creator wished to know if they should know find out how to program to utilize an API—an Software Programming Interface. I don’t suppose so. I’ve nicely over 10 years of studying and dealing with PowerShell, and I don’t suppose anybody wants that to make use of an API. Possibly there can be a number of issues to be taught, however not all of it. Why would you even need to give attention to one language, as so many could make API calls? I feel time could be higher spent studying and understanding APIs earlier than studying anyone language. The languages the thread’s creator talked about have been “HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and/or Python.” I may get some hate for this, however once I discovered HTML and CSS I by no means as soon as thought it was a programming language. I discover it unusual when folks suppose it’s. It’s a formatting language, like markdown. Do that to that, place that there, make this daring, and many others. There’s no looping or conditional logic—I simply by no means considered both of these two that means.

My thought was to show a bit about APIs with some assist—the video linked on the finish of this paragraph is nice—after which, assume the reader has completely no expertise with PowerShell. It will probably simply be put in on any working system: Home windows, macOS, or Linux. Upon getting it put in, should you plan to [1], then let’s watch the under video. It’s fast and painless and makes use of an simply understood analogy for APIs, and requests and responses. I’m going to imagine that you simply, because the reader, have watched the video once I start the following paragraph.

[1] In case you’re on Home windows, you can use the built-in Home windows PowerShell should you’d slightly, and never obtain and set up PowerShell (sure, they’re totally different). In case you’re on a Mac you should utilize the Terminal. In case you’re on Linux you should utilize its built-in terminal, as nicely. Once more, that is should you don’t need to use PowerShell for some unusual purpose.

No matter how you progress ahead, you now know sufficient about APIs for now. It’s a means in which you’ll be able to ship a request to, and get a response from, an online service. I completely love once I hear that an organization is API first. As an illustration, my understanding is that AWS, or Amazon Net Companies (Amazon’s Cloud computing platform), is API first. They construct the API, then they construct a UI or a web site that calls the APIs. Then, they’ll write PowerShell and different CLI (command-line interfaces) that work together with the very same API. All the things makes use of the identical backend to get its outcomes. If every thing is API-driven, then there are quite a few methods to do the identical factor, to collect the identical data. If there’s an API to start out a digital pc of their cloud, then you would do it from Python, PowerShell, Bash, and from the AWS Administration Console—the AWS web site. There are in all probability loads of different languages that may interface with the very same API, so why give attention to anyone single language? That is the purpose. Expose one thing in such a means that the language or shell program making the request doesn’t matter.

Earlier than we use PowerShell and the Invoke-RestMethod command, or Bash and the cURL command, or no matter else you’ve chosen, let’s set up Postman [2]. It will probably really feel a bit overwhelming, even for me, however we’re solely going to make use of a small portion of it. You could have to create an account as of late, and that’s completely fantastic to do. As soon as it’s put in, open it, check in, and many others. and let’s get to the primary display screen. You’ll in all probability start in some default workspace. In my set up of Postman, I created a brand new workspace only for issues associated to my web site and named it tommymaynard.com.

[2] Whereas I’ve by no means used it, it seems that there’s a web-based model of Postman. I’m positive it’ll require registration, nevertheless it received’t require obtain and set up. My directions can be for the put in model, nonetheless, I do suspect they’ll work equally. Your alternative.

Towards the top-left needs to be a plus (+) that means that you can create a group. Consider a group as a folder the place we are able to separate like requests. It’s very like Workspaces, as, at minimal, it’s a way of separation, as nicely.

When given an possibility to call it, name it “ipify.org.” As soon as the gathering is created, click on the greater-than signal (>) to open the gathering. There should be a message that claims, “The gathering is empty. Add a request to start out working.” Click on “Add a request” and rename the request to “IP handle.” Now, take the under URL and replica and paste it the place it says, “Enter request URL.”


https://api.ipify.org

When that’s in place, click on Ship on the far proper. This can place your public-facing IP handle within the decrease, response pane. Once more, suppose request (top-pane) and response (lower-pane). We ship the waiter in, the waiter works with no matter is again within the kitchen—we don’t care—after which one thing comes again to us, on the desk.

How did I learn about this API, proper? There are so lots of them. There’s in all probability not less than one for every thing. Sooner or later, you, like me, is perhaps irritated you truly should go to some web site to seek out one thing out. If I may use Postman, or PowerShell, to securely examine my financial institution stability, I might. Similar interface for every thing, please. I hate navigating 15 completely totally different web sites; every thing’s in a special place. It’s so annoying. APIs imply we don’t should care the place somebody put one thing on their web site.

I went off on a small tangent there. Anyway, APIs are most frequently documented, and the one we simply used, is not any exception. Check out the ipfiy.com web site. It’s nothing however a shrine to how this API works. When there, scroll right down to the “Code samples” part. There are 29 —sure, twenty-nine—totally different code examples: PowerShell, Python, PHP, Bash, Ruby, NodeJS, Go, C#, and extra. Why would anybody be taught one language? Postman isn’t even a language; do you even want a language? Postman could also be all you’ll want to write API documentation. You don’t should be a coder to do that.

Let’s transfer again up on the ipify.org internet web page and check out the API Utilization part for IPv4. There’s an possibility to incorporate a question parameter. See should you can spot what’s totally different within the under picture from what we noticed beforehand. Proper-click on our ipify.org assortment and select “Add Request” and see should you can’t rename it to “IP handle (JSON).” As soon as your Postman appears just like the under picture, hit Ship. Your public-facing IP handle ought to seem within the response pane, too.

This request will embrace a question parameter contained in the handle. That is notated with the query mark (?), adopted by a key-value pair. In our occasion, the key-value pair consists of format (the important thing) and json (the worth). When that is run, we return extra than simply textual content, however as a substitute, a JSON object. Some methods which may make this request, would possibly favor it’s already formatted in JSON. It’s an information construction; it’s how—and that is going to sound loopy—we wish the info to be structured. Totally different methods need sure issues a sure means and so, if the API permits for it, we are able to get it again (in our response), the way in which we wish it, with none manipulation on our half. Take into consideration your meals in that restaurant. Wouldn’t you like the spices are added to the entree whereas it’s cooking versus you, doing it on the desk? It’s extra give you the results you want, and it might not prove as nicely.

My pc has Home windows PowerShell, PowerShell, Git Bash, and utilizing Home windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), Ubuntu as nicely. Within the under pictures, we’ll run by way of making use of this API in almost all of them—we’ll skip Home windows PowerShell. Earlier than we check out that, nonetheless, check out this.

It’s over the far-right of Postman. This wonderful piece of software program simply gave you all you’ll want to invoke this API in a number of languages, shells, and many others. The cURL command is what can be utilized within the Mac Terminal or in a Linux Bash shell.

So, let’s attempt it. Listed here are a number of API requests and responses from my machine. WSL is first, adopted by Git Bash, adopted by my favourite, PowerShell. The primary two don’t use the format question parameter, whereas the final one does. A observe about that after the photographs, nonetheless.

The PowerShell Invoke-RestMethod command was written to take returned JSON objects and robotically convert them into PowerShell objects. Due to this fact, the second command, ConvertTo-Json, is included to transform it again into JSON. So, that’s what’s taking place there.

Why you’d be taught a complete language to do that, I do not know. Be taught as a lot as you want now, after which return and fill in what you need, and what turns into essential to know at a later date. And, that is from somebody that hates solely understanding components of issues. I additionally perceive time constraints and that there’s a greater solution to stand up to hurry with APIs than to be taught a complete programming language, or two, or a few formatting languages. Deal with studying extra about APIs for now; there’s loads extra to know than what we coated right here.

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