What Are eSignature APIs and How Do They Work?

APIs provide important advantages and opportunities to developers and businesses by facilitating the means to maintain relevance and meet user functionality demands as well as streamline productivity and save time. 

You may not even realize it, but you likely engage various APIs each day. Not only are APIs increasingly popular in the tech industry, but they are also somewhat standard now with developers. Popular applications like Facebook, Gmail, PayPal, Twitter, and more all utilize APIs to smoothly enable various functions that you rely on.

As electronic signature software continues to establish itself as a standard tool used by companies all over the world to automate the signing process, it has become increasingly important that eSigning procedures can both support and enhance workflows. This is where API usage, such as that of Foxit eSign, comes in.

What Is an API?

An API, or Application Programming Interface, is used by companies and developers to enable other third-party developers and apps to connect with and use their data and functionality. APIs establish carefully defined sets of rules that lay the groundwork for dictating how one app communicates with another.

A common example of API usage is when businesses offer the functionality of paying with PayPal on their website or application – an API is at work when customers click to complete their transaction with this payment method. In this case, an API is connecting PayPal and the company’s app or website with the goal of providing a seamless payment experience for the customer.

When an API is being used, 4 essential steps take place to enable the desired functionality:

  1. The “request” or retrieval of information is initiated by the user.
  2. The request for information is sent to the third-party application.
  3. The requested information is provided to the API by the third-party application.
  4. The API then provides the requested information to the server and the requesting user.

There are several different kinds of APIs, with the most common being REST APIs, Soap APIs, and RPC APIs. Each of these API types represents a different architectural format for when and how information is shared.

REST APIs are most commonly used by developers due to them being user friendly and reliable for coding. REST stands for “representational state transfer,” which is a set of guidelines that dictate how user data is transferred. REST API guidelines and best practices generally include:

  • All interactions must first be initiated by the client to the server and never initiated by the server
  • HTTP should be used as the common language and requests should be made in GET, POST, PUT, or DELETE formats
  • All REST API requests must be independent of each other and considered “stateless”
  • Regardless of any added or changing layers, the way messages are sent between a server and client must remain unchanged
  • REST APIs should always use data caching to promote time reduction

When these guidelines are followed, APIs are considered “RESTful.”

What are the Benefits of Using APIs?

There are endless ways in which APIs can be utilized by developers and businesses. While usage and implementation are determined by demand and industry-specific needs, there are common benefits experienced by most that drive the need for more API solutions.

  • Enhanced revenue through the providing of important additional functionalities to customers
  • Reduced cost by shortening the time and effort needed to develop new applications and simply utilizing third-party APIs
  • Faster and better innovation through access to APIs that allow customer and business needs to be met, changes implemented, and relevancy maintained
  • Improved collaboration between teams by using APIs to connect things like communication apps, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, eSigning apps, and more
  • Better customer experiences through the utilization of APIs to quickly and effectively connect customers to the tools and features in demand
  • More productivity for teams and developers by simplifying and optimizing everyday processes through the act of connecting users to the apps they need

How Are APIs Used for Electronic Signatures?

Developers can use eSignature APIs to make API calls that allow businesses to seamlessly send and sign a PDF within their own chosen applications and perform other relevant functions. For instance, eSignature APIs can be leveraged to save time and reduce the effort for everyday tasks such as gathering important paperwork and agreements from employees. Instead of manually communicating with and gathering documents from each employee, eSignature APIs can be implemented to automate the signing process in seconds.

Foxit eSign’s eSignature API is a purpose-built and enterprise-ready solution capable of streamlining productivity, adding important functionality, and reducing costs. By using our eSignature API, businesses can both transform their workflows and seamlessly meet the needs of their customers in vital ways, such as:

  • Pre-filling information about the document prior to sending
  • Direct signing within the business website or application
  • Downloading extensive Excel Reports with advanced filters
  • Advanced notifications sent to signers based on options selected on forms
  • Leveraging Webhooks to automatically sync customer data in-application with any relevant information present in the signature
  • Downloading any signed document at any time
  • Meet compliance needs with our ESIGN, UETA, CCPA, eIDAS, GDPR, and 21 CFR Part 11 compliant solution
  • And more

eSignature APIs truly take electronic signatures and the ability to sign a PDF to the next level by placing customized and comprehensive signing power into the hands of businesses and their customers.

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