What is API?
API, the abbreviation of Application programming interface is a software-to-software machine-readable interface. It allows two applications/software to interact and exchange data with each other.
API acts as a messenger that takes requests, translates, and delivers the requested information or functionality in real time. In technical terms, API is a set of documented protocols that provides a secure and standardized way to build and integrate application software. They are counted as an essential element as they enable developers to build applications more effectively.
From Facebook to e-commerce websites to custom-built software, APIs are powered as one of the most significant technological advances to assimilate desired functionalities. The purpose of API in any application is diverse. First of many, they accelerate the software development process by providing valuable functionalities. Business application of API includes data sharing between two software components, Integration of two(or multiple) digital applications, embedded content on third-party websites, and many others.
How does API work?
An API is an intermediate layer that developers use to connect their business products with other products or services. Upon the request by the user, the client application powers API to access the source application. This is called an API call.
Here is the rundown of the step-by-step procedure on how APIs work.
- A client program initiates an API call by requesting certain information.
- After receiving the valid request, the API calls the web server or the third-party application.
- If the requested information is available in the database or in the source application, it responds to the API by returning the necessary data.
- This information is then transferred to the client program.
To explain the workflow of API with a real-time paradigm, we as users request Google by enquiring about the weather of a particular city with a specific date/time. As a client application, Google uses the relevant API to fetch the details and display the result.
Types of API
In terms of availability, APIs can be categorized into private, partner, public, and composite.
These APIs are only meant for the company’s internal team usage designed to enhance the services and production within the organization. These APIs can be used by the company’s developers to integrate the organization’s IT system/application and to build a new system or boost the existing system.
These APIs are made to available only with the business partners. This allows the strategic integration of software between two parties with enhanced authentication and security protocol. By this, the third-party solution benefitting the API can source the digital information of the host company.
These APIs are available publically and can be used by everyone. There is a further classification of public API as Open and Commercial. The open API is available free of cost for third-party developers. While commercial APIs offer a subscription fee or pay-as-you-go facility to access the benefits of their feature and functionality.
These APIs allows you to bundle two or multiple service API to get a unified response. These APIs allow developers to make a single API call to request data from different applications instead of making multiple separate API calls.