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How to use the API framework in Magento 2 to expand the store capabilities

Application programming interface (API) is a widely used tool to expand the capabilities of an application, allowing it to communicate with other software solutions. Magento is no exception, and it relies extensively on APIs.

What is Magento API

A Magento store exchanges a large amount of data in the course of its operation. This flow of information is conducted by means of various applications and services that help to provide customers with the most comfortable conditions for buying goods or getting the required services.

The interaction of Magento 2 and any external tool, that uses this software platform by Adobe is organized by means of an API. The implementation of this mechanism was done relatively recently, but it has become widespread.

The customer API available in Magento offers functionality to speed up the data exchange process. Thus, receiving, sending, and processing information, including transferring it to external systems, becomes easier for store managers and customers. Without the API, users would have to manually export and import all the data, necessary for the store to function properly, which can be time consuming.

Basic API work principles in Magento

The current Magento 2 and the previous Magento 1 support two widely popular program interfaces. The first is called REST (Representational State Transfer) and the second is called SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). In this article, the use of REST is mentioned more often, as it is somewhat easier to use than SOAP.

The first step of using the API framework in Magento is to explicitly announce the URL. This step can be fulfilled in the webapi.xml file, which is located in the /vendor///etc folder. This file also determines what methods and program services can be used by API in the future.

Once all required definitions are specified in the webapi.xml file, it will be rendered on the fly and incorporated into the web API.

Since this file and its contents are managed programmatically without user intervention, it is fundamental that this help class is organized in a certain way.

When Magento creates a call to the API, this request includes several data elements. These data points within the API call are:

  • HTTP request type. It includes methods such as POST or GET, PUT or DELETE.
  • The URL of the endpoint to which the request is sent.
  • The payload within the API call. This payload consists of parameters for the request execution, however for some API calls it may be optional. The payload is passed through the request in JSON or XML format.
  • Body information, which includes the rendering of HTTP request and response headers, authorization request, cache, cookies.

The API documentation on REST in Magento 2 can be generated immediately using Swagger. This software tool is supplied as a part of Magento 2 package.

Swagger has the distinctive feature of being able to demonstrate all the programmatic methods that can be used with a particular Magento installation. This means that you will get constant updates of the data on the store.

Swagger provides another useful thing - endpoint execution peculiarities. It runs straightforwardly from the web browser, allowing immediate verification of the values that the API calls return.

To be able to utilize Swagger, a store owner needs to add "swagger" to the web site URL. This could be, for instance as follows: http://store.com/swagger.

Adding this link opens the way to use Magento 2 REST API with Swagger, and the above page can be used to track all the programmatic methods that the store provides for the guest user.

How can you use the web APIs provided by Magento?

The store owner can utilize the provided API to play out a wide cluster of programmatic tasks. To name several popular ones:

  • Producing a shopping application, which can be a customary creation available for installation on a smartphone. In addition, an application can be created in a similar way that the store worker uses to assist clients with shopping.
  • Incorporation with the CRM or ERP backend frameworks, including software solutions such as Salesforce or Xero.
  • Integration with a content management system. The API does not currently provide content tagging functionality.
  • Magento storefront and the interface of the Magento admin panel can utilize AJAX calls made via JavaScript to access third-party functions.

There is more to API in Magento

All the options enlisted previously are only part of the capabilities that the API in Magento provides. Software interfaces define three types of users, which can be used to distinct access to the API.

Guest mode user

A user of this level has some access to resources, utilizing the anonymous permissions provided by the API.

Administrative user level

Administrative/integration type users have broad access to resources. A list of accessible resources is provided by the configuration files.

Customer

Depending on the store's configuration, such users can be granted access at the self or anonymous level.

In order to provide a specific level of access to each type of user, they need to be authorized. Magento offers one of three mechanisms for authentication.

Authentication through tokens

The key peculiarity of this method is the provision of access credentials such as username, secret phrase, and token during the first step of establishing a connection. Thereafter, the data exchange is authorized simply by the token, which has a limited usage timeframe.

Access per session

Access validation that is based on sessions, is reputed to be generally straightforward of the three authorization mechanisms provided by Magento.

Thus, the API structure utilizes session data to approve admittance to the asset to which access has been scheduled. To generate frontend client authorization, log in and guide the web browser toward the page that has the URL https://store.com./rest/V1/clients/me.

A client who opens the specified page when accessing the store will be approved to get access to assets with self and guest levels. This mechanism also works for administrator accounts if such a user attempts to access assets for which the administrator account has permission to use.

Authenticating a user via an OAuth

The OAuth 1.0a specification can be used to get access to API functionality. In this situation, consider the API that Magento provides as service assistance that permits any outsider user admittance to assets through the approval provided by the asset proprietors.

How to start using Magento 2 API

To get everything rolling with API in the store, first and foremost, you need to register in the Magento admin panel for the web service. Here are the specific means you must follow to empower this service:

  1. Create a web services user on Magento Admin

Make a user for the service, using the tools provided by the Magento admin panel.

On the off chance that the validation mechanism utilized by the store uses tokens, you should navigate to the menu System > Permission > All Users > Add New User. With the two remaining validations, creating the new client in the admin isn't required.

  1. Make another integration

To make a new integration open the menu System > Extensions > Integration > Add New Integration. If this is not too difficult, ensure that the integration’s resource access list is restricted.

  1. Setup authentication

A store admin can configure the access authentication using a client with REST or SOAP support.

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