APIs provide functionality from a server to a client. Software applications are powered by APIs which are either built internally for the software application or by third party API providers. Legislate's contract creation and management platform is built using internal APIs which can handle the complexity of modelling how contract terms connect and how to assemble them into valid contracts. Legislate is making its API public so that software applications can offer state of the art contract creation and management capabilities. This article explains what an API is, the challenges of building contract APIs and how you can start offering contract APIs to your users.
What is an API?
An API, also known as an Application Programming Interface, provides a specific service on demand. An API acts like a waiter ready to serve items on a menu (defined by the server) when it is called by a client. The orders made by the client to the API are made by REST requests. The 3 main REST requests are the following:
- GET request: retrieve data from the server
- POST request: post data to the server
- PATCH request: update data
REST is a standard for making requests and clients can make these requests in different languages. APIs are usually designed with a standard pattern to facilitate readability and ease of use. Legislate's API documentation provides resources such as guides and recipes to help third party developers with the implementation of the API in their APP.
What are the benefits of using APIs?
APIs allow you to obtain functionality without needing to build it. In practice, APIs are popular because they allow software platforms to concentrate their development efforts on core features whilst augmenting their offering with functionality provided by APIs. Whilst it might seem valuable to implement your own functionality for everything you build, building functionality which is not core to your business can be costly and distract you from your core business. Due to the complexity of contracts and the cost of maintaining templates, few companies offer a delightful contracting experience.
What are the challenges for contract APIs?
A contract is a set of legally binding terms between 2 or more parties. The terms of a contract are interdependent and rules determine how they can or can’t be combined. Contracts can be tailored flexibly depending on a business’ goals and the context of a contract which means that offering a standardised contract as an API is difficult if you don’t have a flexible way of modelling contracts. Legislate's API allows you to build a legal agreement from a set of parameters. These parameters can be fetched from your database or collected from users. Another challenge with contracts is that they tend to be updated regularly in order to be up-to-date with legal updates. Legislate's legal team ensures that these agreements are up-to-date with the latest legislation so that you don't need to.
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How has Legislate overcome the challenges of API contracts?
APIs work effectively when the parameters are standardised and generalisable. In order to generalise and standardise parameters. Legislate has adopted knowledge graph technology to map the required parameters of a contract and how they connect to form valid contracts. Knowledge graphs can map the relationships in the data flexibly and at scale which means that Legislate's API contracts can be tailored to the requirements of a user at a much more granular level than with existing solutions. Moreover, Legislate views contracts as workflows which is why the public API allows contracts to be tailored, signed and managed.
What can you do with the Legislate API?
With the Legislate API you can implement most of the functionality which is available in the Legislate app. This means that you can create contracts, add users to contracts, add companies to contracts and electronically sign the agreements.
What are the benefits of integrating contract APIs into your application?
Integrating contract APIs into your application has many benefits aside from offering a robust contracting process to your users:
- Avoid the duplication of data entry by instantly populating contract fields with the data stored in your system.
- Retain users by increasing the stickiness of your app.
- Access contract data you never had before.
How to get access to the Legislate API for contracts?
In order to get access to the Legislate API, you'll need to register your interest with us via the chat or email. We'll provide more details about the terms of the API and discuss how you intend to implement it. We'll then give you a client and secret token so that you can generate your own API keys. We'll also set you up with a sandbox environment so that you test your implementation without affecting your existing users. In the meantime, to find out more about the Legislate public API, visit our documentation!