Low-Code API Development Gets A Boost From Profound
March 10, 2021 Alex Woodie
Profound Logic last week launched Profound API, a new product designed to enable the development and management of RESTful Web services with a minimal amount of coding. The browser-based product works with IBM i programs and data, as well as assets located off the box, and is designed to enable even entry-level IT professionals to get into the API game.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) have been around for decades. Nearly every developer will call or expose an API at some point in their lives. But APIs have been gaining new momentum lately as a critical layer enabling the future of application development, as seen through the agile, DevOps lens.
Instead of building monolithic applications that have a single codebase, as many RPG, COBOL, and Java developers have been accustomed to doing, developers today are encouraged to break up the functions in their applications into smaller, more manageable chunks, called Web services or microservices. These Web services and microservices can be used independently to call programs and retrieve data residing on remote computers, which speeds up the development cycle and provides scalability advantages. And of course, these Web services and microservices communicate with the outside world via APIs.
IBM i developers can create APIs from IBM i assets using other development tools and techniques. But Profound Logic saw an opportunity to build a dedicated environment for the creation and management of APIs. It launched that environment last week with Profound UI.
Profound API is based on Node.JS and runs in a Web browser. The program contains several editors and a runtime that enables users to define their APIs, to test them, and to manage them on an ongoing basis. After Profound API walks the user through the API generation process, the products automatically generates the code for the REST API using the Swagger (or OpenAPI) standard.
Profound Logic’s Brian May shows how the new product work in a video of Profound API. He shows how users can use a drag-and-drop studio to create new API definitions from an existing Db2 for i database table.
The tool provides an almost wizard-like development environment for API development. Users are given basic CRUD (create, replace, update, delete) options to select specific records stored in a database table, and then asked what to do with the record. The user tells the tool what it wants to do with the output of the call, and the tool automatically generates the API according to the specifications.
“You can actually create these API and never write a single line of code,” May says in the video. “This is going to allow the creation of API not just by your senior level developers, but even your brand new developers can work in an environment like this and just point and click and answer some question and build an entire API layer for you.”
In addition to calling RPG programs and retrieving Db2 for i data, Profound API can access business logic and databases sitting on other platforms, too. In his demo, May showed how easy it was to combine a call to a Postgres database running in the Amazon Web Services cloud with the API targeting the IBM i assets. A single API combined the results from the two systems and returned an answer. “I think that is really, really cool,” May says.
Testing is built into the Profound API interface. It also includes an API Explorer where users can explore the documentation behind an API, which is all presented in Swagger. There is also a dashboard where the user can access statistics about the APIs, and drill down into any errors that may have occurred.
By unlocking existing IBM i data and logic with APIs, IBM i shops turn their systems of record into systems of engagement, Profound Logic says.
“It is more important than ever for IT teams to strategically situate API at the core of new application development and reimagine their process of business application development,” Profound Logic CEO Alex Roytman says in a press release. “Without a tool like Profound API, your REST APIs can quickly become outdated, lost, or unused. We are so excited to add Profound API to our integrated suite of products and services, and we know it will help all types of businesses get ahead of the competition.”
For more information, see www.profoundlogic.com/api.