With so many new forms of technology being discussed in the trucking and logistics industry, it can be tough to figure out which are truly relevant to your operation. To help, here are two technology terms every carrier needs to understand, because they will play an important role in the future of trucking. So let’s discuss – what is an API and what is a Web Service?
First, what they are.
- A Web Service enables communication between two electronic “things” over a network.
- An API (Application Program Interface) is a blueprint that documents how to configure one “thing” so that it can communicate with another “thing”.
Using the internet as a network between two electronic “things,” such as a software application and a server, an API enables a programmer to configure the application so that it can communicate with the server using a Web Service.
Next, what they do.
Hopefully, the following example using Roadvision LTL Dispatching Software and The Weather Channel API will help illustrate what Web Services and APIs do, and how they can help your trucking business.
Let’s say that you want Roadvision LTL Dispatching Software to automatically report forecasted weather alerts to dispatchers. Using The Weather Channel API “zip code forecast request” we can configure Roadvision to do just that.
During load planning, while building a trip in Roadvision LTL Dispatching, the zip code for each stop is sent from our dispatching application to The Weather Channel server by a Web Service we configured using the Weather Channel’s API (blueprint).
- The Weather Channel API allowed us to configure a web service so that we send the “zip code forecast request” in a format that The Weather Channel server is expecting.
As The Weather Channel’s server receives each “zip codes forecast request” it processes the zip code and then generates the forecast result.
- This processing occurs just as if you were to manually enter the zip code directly into The Weather Channel website using “Show me the weather in… city, zip, or place” entry field.
After each forecast result is generated by the Weather Channel, the result is then sent to our dispatching application using a Web Service configured by The Weather Channel.
- The Weather Channel API allowed us to configure our Dispatching application so that it knows how to process the formatted “zip code forecast request” results returned
As the forecast result for each “zip code forecast request” (i.e. stop) is received by our dispatching application, Roadvision LTL Dispatching is configured to activate The Weather Channel icon – converting it from being grayed out, to The Weather Channel blue.
- If the stop is associated with a weather Alert, then the Dispatcher is presented with a Roadvision Dispatching Application Warning.
Hopefully, you found this helpful.
This example is just one illustration of how APIs and Web Services can be used. Web Services enable trucking businesses to connect in real-time with customer supply chains, logistics partners and 3rd parties such as The Weather Channel. These types of strategic connections enable businesses to advance the exchange of information on-demand, live and in the moment.