How to use Salesforce APIs for business integration
Salesforce is a leading cloud-based platform that offers a suite of products and services for managing customer relationships, marketing, sales, analytics, and more. Salesforce helps businesses of all sizes and industries to connect with their customers, partners, and employees in new and innovative ways.
However, Salesforce is not an isolated island. It needs to communicate and exchange data with other systems and applications, both inside and outside the organization. For example, a Salesforce user might want to:
• Sync contacts and calendars with Gmail or Outlook
• Import leads and opportunities from a web form or an email campaign
• Send invoices and payments to an accounting software
• Display product reviews and ratings from an e-commerce site
• Access reports and dashboards from a business intelligence tool
How can Salesforce achieve these integrations? The answer is through the use of APIs.
APIs, or application programming interfaces, are a set of rules and protocols that allow different software components to interact with each other. APIs enable data exchange, functionality sharing, and process automation between different systems and applications.
Salesforce offers a rich and diverse collection of APIs that allow developers and administrators to integrate Salesforce with other platforms and services. In this article, we will explain what Salesforce APIs are, how they work, what benefits they offer, how to use them, and how much they cost.
What are Salesforce APIs?
Salesforce APIs are a set of web services that expose Salesforce data and functionality to external applications and systems. Salesforce APIs are based on industry-standard protocols such as REST, SOAP, Bulk, Streaming, and GraphQL. Salesforce APIs support various formats such as XML, JSON, CSV, and binary.
Salesforce APIs can be categorized into two types: data APIs and metadata APIs.
Data APIs are used to access and manipulate the data stored in Salesforce objects and records. Data APIs can perform CRUD (create, read, update, delete) operations on Salesforce data, as well as query, search, bulk load, stream, and sync data.
Metadata APIs are used to access and manipulate the metadata that defines the structure and behavior of Salesforce applications. Metadata APIs can create, modify, deploy, retrieve, package, and delete custom objects, fields, layouts, workflows, Apex classes, Visualforce pages, Lightning components, and more.
Salesforce provides different types of data APIs and metadata APIs for different use cases and scenarios. Here are some of the most commonly used Salesforce APIs:
• REST API: A simple and lightweight API that uses HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, PATCH,DELETE) and URL parameters to access and manipulate Salesforce data and metadata. REST API supports both XML and JSON formats. REST API is ideal for mobile and web apps that need to perform simple and fast operations on Salesforce data and metadata.
• SOAP API: A robust and powerful API that uses SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and WSDL (Web Services Description Language) to access and manipulate Salesforce data and metadata. SOAP API supports XML format only. SOAP API is ideal for enterprise-level integrations that need to perform complex and secure operations on Salesforce data and metadata.
• Bulk API: A specialized API that uses REST principles to perform bulk operations on large sets of Salesforce data. Bulk API supports CSV and XML formats. Bulk API is ideal for loading or deleting millions of records in Salesforce in an asynchronous and optimized way.
• Streaming API: A specialized API that uses publish/subscribe model to stream real-time data changes from Salesforce to external applications. Streaming API supports JSON format only. Streaming API is ideal for creating reactive and event-driven applications that need to receive notifications when Salesforce data changes.
• GraphQL API: A specialized API that uses GraphQL, a query language for APIs, to access and manipulate Salesforce data. GraphQL API supports JSON format only. GraphQL API is ideal for creating flexible and efficient data queries that can fetch multiple resources in a single request.
Salesforce also provides different types of metadata APIs for different use cases and scenarios. Here are some of the most commonly used Salesforce metadata APIs:
• Metadata API: A general-purpose API that uses SOAP and ZIP files to access and manipulate the metadata of Salesforce applications. Metadata API supports XML format only. Metadata API is ideal for managing the customizations and configurations of Salesforce applications in a programmatic way.
• Tooling API: A specialized API that uses REST and SOAP to access and manipulate the metadata of Salesforce development tools, such as Apex, Visualforce, Lightning, and more. Tooling API supports both XML and JSON formats. Tooling API is ideal for creating custom development tools or integrating with existing IDEs (integrated development environments).
• User Interface API: A specialized API that uses REST to access and manipulate the metadata of Salesforce user interface components, such as objects, fields, layouts, picklists, actions, themes, and more. User Interface API supports JSON format only. User Interface API is ideal for creating custom user interfaces or integrating with existing UI frameworks.
How do Salesforce APIs work?
Salesforce APIs work by exposing Salesforce data and functionality to external applications and systems through web services. Web services are a standardized way of communicating between different software components over the internet.
To use Salesforce APIs, you need to follow these steps:
• Register your external application or system as a connected app in your Salesforce org. A connected app is an application that can connect to Salesforce using APIs. You need to provide some information about your app, such as its name, description, logo, callback URL, and OAuth scopes. OAuth scopes are permissions that define what your app can access or do in Salesforce.
• Authenticate your external application or system with Salesforce using OAuth 2.0 protocol. OAuth 2.0 is a secure and widely used protocol for authorizing access to web services. You need to obtain an access token from Salesforce that grants your app permission to use the APIs. You can use different OAuth 2.0 flows depending on your app type and user interaction.
• Call the Salesforce APIs from your external application or system using HTTP requests. You need to specify the endpoint URL, the HTTP method, the request headers, the request body, and the access token for each API call. You can use different tools or libraries to make HTTP requests in your preferred programming language.
• Receive the Salesforce APIs responses from your external application or system using HTTP responses. You need to parse the response status code, the response headers, and the response body for each API call. You can use different tools or libraries to parse HTTP responses in your preferred programming language.
What are the benefits of Salesforce APIs?
Salesforce APIs offer several benefits for developers and users, such as:
• Integration: Salesforce APIs allow you to integrate Salesforce with other platforms and services, both inside and outside your organization. You can exchange data, share functionality, and automate processes between different systems and applications.
• Customization: Salesforce APIs allow you to customize Salesforce according to your business needs and preferences. You can create custom objects, fields, layouts, workflows, and more using metadata APIs. You can also create custom user interfaces, development tools, and extensions using data APIs and tooling APIs.
• Innovation: Salesforce APIs allow you to leverage the power and capabilities of Salesforce in new and creative ways. You can build new apps and products using Salesforce data and functionality. You can also enhance your existing apps and products with Salesforce features and services.
How much do Salesforce APIs cost?
Salesforce APIs are included in most Salesforce editions and licenses. However, there are some limits and quotas that apply to the usage of Salesforce APIs. These limits and quotas depend on various factors, such as the API type, the Salesforce edition, the license type, the user profile, the org size, and the request volume.
There are two types of API limits: concurrent requests limit and daily requests limit.
• Concurrent requests limit: This limit refers to the number of long-running requests that can be processed simultaneously by Salesforce. Long-running requests are requests that take more than five seconds to complete. The concurrent requests limit is 25 for most Salesforce editions and licenses. If you exceed this limit, you will receive a 503 Service Unavailable error.
• Daily requests limit: This limit refers to the total number of API requests that can be made in a 24-hour period by an org. The daily requests limit is calculated based on a formula that takes into account the Salesforce edition, the license type, the user count, and the request multiplier. If you exceed this limit, you will receive a 403 Forbidden error.
You can check your API usage and limits in your Salesforce org by going to Setup > Company Information or by using System Overview API. You can also monitor your API usage and performance by using Event Monitoring API or by using third-party tools or services.
If you need more API requests than your current limit allows, you can purchase additional API requests from Salesforce or upgrade your Salesforce edition or license.
Salesforce APIs are a powerful and versatile way to integrate Salesforce with other platforms and services. They can help you access and manipulate Salesforce data and metadata, as well as leverage Salesforce functionality and capabilities. They can also help you customize and innovate your Salesforce applications and products.
If you are interested in using Salesforce APIs for your project, you can sign up for a free developer edition org on Salesforce website and explore the Salesforce Developers API Library. You can also check out some of the examples and tutorials on how to use Salesforce APIs effectively.
We hope this article has given you a comprehensive overview of Salesforce APIs and how they work. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.