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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT APPLICATION PROGRAMMING INTERFACE (API) vol. 1

API is an abbreviation for Application Programming Interface. It is an extremely essential term that is used everywhere in modern development. As a developer, you must have heard the term “API” from a team member or an acquaintance during the development of a project. However, the primary query is “what exactly is that API?” The purpose of this article is to provide a straightforward introduction to the meaning of API. To facilitate comprehension, I’ve decided to divide this article into subtopics, which include:

Meaning of API from a conceptual standpoint

Definition of API from a developer’s perspective

Definition of API from a web development perspective

Understanding API from a conceptual standpoint

To conceptually comprehend Application Programming Interface, you must first comprehend what an interface is. Consider a radio with two knobs, one for selecting the desired frequency and the other for adjusting the intensity. This analogy illustrates what interface means and what API will stand for. And you have an antenna and an internet connection that enable you to receive radio signals from or connect to various stations, allowing you to play. This is the system that operates internally. For instance, if you want to modify the volume, it will have an internal mechanism that ensures the volume is adjusted internally. However, from the perspective of the listener who is listening to music on any station, there are two factors that can be adjusted: the station and the volume. As a user of a system, your only concern is what you hope to accomplish with it. This basic analogy suggests that as a user, you are only concerned with what you want without regard for how the system operates internally. This system provides you with a simple interface so that you can accomplish your goals while hiding its internal mechanisms. So, we can say that this system provides two APIs: one for adjusting the amplitude and the other for adjusting the frequency of any station of your choosing. Therefore, from a conceptual standpoint, API can now be described as a simple means that the system provides to the users for accessing the system’s resources in order to complete their tasks, without regard to the internal mechanisms of the system or the system’s complexity, since the internal mechanisms are independent of the users.

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API knowledge from a developer’s perspective

Let’s now comprehend the meaning of API from the developer’s perspective, as well as how it has been utilised in practise. Therefore, we can classify where API has been used as

Software Framework and Library

External APIs

Operating system

Web APIs

Software Framework and Library

From this perspective, API can be viewed as something that you created by supplying multiple methods. For instance, if you’ve created a software library and uploaded it to GitHub or another open source platform so that others can use it in their projects, and if a user used your software library with the method you’ve created without bordering the code or library from which the service originated, this is referred to as an API.

In this context, API refers to the objects and methods exposed by a framework that can be ingested and used by the framework’s user to accomplish a specific task.

Operating System

API derived from the concept of operating system signifies that the operating system provides various access methods to system resources via the interface between the application and the operating system. For instance, if you want to open a file, all you need to do is transmit the file’s path to the operating system, and it will take care of the rest, allowing you to edit or write to the file without interfering with the process. You need not be concerned with the internal operations involved in opening the file from its storage location. APIs are therefore the mechanisms provided by the operating system for interacting with system resources.

Remote APIS

From this perspective, API can also be categorised as the methods by which you attempt to access the resources. This means that if you have access to a database in the cloud and are using the data to create something, the database must provide an API that you can remotely access. For instance, if you are developing an application in Java, the language provides database connectivity. As a developer, you can query various types of databases using the same methods provided by database connectivity, regardless of the differences between the types of databases. This Java API is capable of accessing multiple databases, but we are not concerned with how it did so; we are only concerned with the result I will obtain if I use this method.

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Web APIs

The majority of the time, APIs are categorized from the perspective of web APIs, and this is the most prevalent context in which APIs are discussed. Web API is a programming interface or application type that facilitates interaction and communication between software applications. It is frequently employed to provide a data access interface for websites and client applications. Web APIs can be used to retrieve and save data from a database. Web APIs emerged when an interface between an enterprise and an application existed. This means that you have a server that provides certain services, such as video streaming and social network access, and that the enterprise provides APIs so that you can interact with those services. Web API provides URLs that API consumers can use to access resources. It specifies the HTTP protocol to be utilised and the desired response.

Understanding APIs from the perspective of Web Development

This is the most common usage scenario for APIs. In essence, we develop a website and provide clients with access to it. Suppose you have a business with a catalogue of products, and in order for users to access your APIs, you must provide an HTTP request. This is because, if you have a remote service, you must always use the HTTP protocol to access it. When using HTTP, you must provide an endpoint URL that end users can use to access your services. Therefore, if you have a service operating in your backend, you must expose an infrastructure method that can be accessed via URL. The URL could appear as follows: http://jobscola.com/jobs?type=” ”

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Here, you must provide the following information:

API endpoint over HTTP

Methods GET or POST that will be invoked

Format of the request (query parameters)

Headers

Format of the response (JSON, XML, or something else).

If an error occurs, the system will respond based on the specified error type.

Kinds of APIs

APIs can be classified into numerous categories.

Principal, interim, and ownership APIs. In this category, APIs are organised as follows:

Open or public APIs

Internal or confidential APIs

Partner APIs

Composite APIs

Data and Service APIs – in this category, APIs are divided into Data and Service APIs.

Data APIs

APIs for Internal Service

APIs for External Service

APIs for User Experience

APIs and Protocols for Web Service

REST API (stands for REpresentational State Transfer) stands for REpresentational State Transfer.

Simple Object Access Protocol Application Programming Interface

XML-RPC

WebSocket API

JSON-RPC

APIs by Application or Category

Explore APIs

Dictionary Programming Interfaces

APIs for meteorological data

APIs in sport

APIs for Food and Restaurants

API for IP Geolocation

APIs for communications

Advanced APIs

Low-level interfaces APIS Use Cases

Database APIs

APIs for the operating system

Web API

Advantages of using API

There are too many advantages to API usage to enumerate. The following are some advantages:

Compatibility with internal and external system

Adding or enhancing internal and external system functionality

Adding or enhancing customer functionality

Accelerating the software and system development process

Operational Cost decrease

Reduction of Software Development costs

Enhanced software and system testing

Allowing the development of mobile applications

Conclusion

This article has taught us a great deal about APIs. We learned the meaning of APIs from a conceptual standpoint and also observed how developers conceptualise APIs. In addition, we learned the definition of API from the perspective of web development, as well as the various categories of APIs and the advantages of utilising APIs.

I trust you now understand what an API is and how it is utilised differently in the development environment.

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