API Series: Introducing the Znode API 2.0

Last week we announced the release of Multifront 7.1, the latest version of our .NET ecommerce platform, which continues to improve the overall experience for our customers. Multifront 7.1 includes a number of important enhancements and additions, such as multiple ship-to addresses, customer-based pricing, and an improved internal provider engine. But the most significant item in Multifront 7.1 is our new API. In fact, it’s so important, it gets it’s own version number: 2.0.

Overhauled for the Long Haul

Version 2.0 of the API has been overhauled from the ground up and redesigned with the future in mind. It’s a completely open set of REST endpoints from which nearly anything can be built on top of the Multifront ecommerce platform. From the shopping cart checkout process to creating administrative reports, it includes rich querying and filtering capabilities that allow you to request as much or as little data as you need.

A Shift In Thinking

This new API represents a shift in our overall platform architecture as it now becomes the key piece in almost everything we do. From building user interfaces and applications to integrating with various back office systems, the API is being positioned as the central figurehead that makes everything go within, and outside of, the Multifront ecommerce platform.

Why Is It So Important?

There are three reasons why the API is as important as we’re making it out to be:

  1. The Headless Engine – We’ll talk more about the headless engine in a later post, but it’s really about being able to build any type of UI on top of the API. External web sites, desktop apps, mobile apps, whatever.
  2. Integration – Naturally you can’t talk about an API without talking about integration, and our API is no different. The Znode API 2.0 allows for integration with any kind of system in your infrastructure.
  3. Extensibility – The API serves as the outer boundary of Multifront, and can be used to extend our ecommerce platform any way you see fit.

Technical Highlights

For the developers out there, here are a few technical highlights of the API 2.0:

  • Built Using ASP.NET Web API – This provided a lot of the heavy lifting for us, allowing us to focus on our endpoint design instead of lower-level concerns.
  • 100% RESTful Endpoints – When we say 100% RESTful, we mean it. We spent more time going through the actual HTTP specification than we care to admit.
  • Supports JSON Format Only – You won’t find any angle brackets in our API as XML is not supported. It’s all JSON all the time.
  • Built-in Caching System – The API has its own caching layer that you can tune to meet your exact requirements.
  • Built-in Help and Documentation – Part of the ASP.NET Web API, we customized and extended it to make it easy for developers to get up to speed quickly.

See It In Action

All this talk about our awesome new API sounds great, but how about we show you instead? Head on over to api.znode.com and start clicking around. In particular, click on the “API” link in the top-right corner of the page so you can see all of the endpoints which are currently exposed.

More to Come

We’re thrilled with how the API 2.0 turned out, and we’ve got plenty more to say about it. In fact, this post was just the introduction in a series of upcoming posts about what’s in the API and how it was made. Some upcoming topics include:

  • HTTP Verbs and Status Codes
  • Expands and Filters
  • Sorting and Paging
  • Help and Documentation
  • Models and Responses
  • Caching
  • And more…

Stay tuned.