Getting Started with a new 3rd Party API

3rd party APIs offer tons of creative possibilities for developers.  Despite that, getting up and running with a new one can be painful, as each provider seems to implement either authentication or request handling slightly differently.

When working with a new API, I like to approach it in the following way:

- If the API will be an integral part of your application, start by exploring it first, before designing or implementing any other functionality.  If for some reason you get stuck (lack of support or clear examples, beta APIs that are constantly changing), you want to minimize wasted effort.  Read documentation and see samples of the data you can receive.  Some providers even have online tools that allow you to run requests in the browser – these are especially handy.

- The two main areas of a new API to figure out are authentication and making requests:

- If you get stuck at any point, then it’s time to reach out to other developers whom have worked on the API, developer forums (StackOverflow), or even the service provider directly.

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