It’s a term that has been around in the technology world for years, but many people don’t know what it means. The term API stands for Application Programming Interface, and in a very simple way, it is a set of patterns that are part of an interface that allows the creation of platforms in a simpler and more practical way for developers.
APIs are the interface that enables communication between different programs. They are of a formal nature and correspond to computer functions and protocols with which developers can create specific programs for databases, operating systems and online platforms.
In this article we will show you what this technology is all about. Keep reading if you’re interested!
What Is an API?
API or Application Programming Interface, is a set of functions and procedures that allow the integration of systems, these will be used by software and will allow them to communicate with each other.
An API is also used to exchange data between different types of software to automate procedures and develop new functionalities.
What problems can we find when using an API?
- The security of an API: We could say that if we have an API, we are leaving an open door for them to enter our company. Although nowadays there are methods and more information that will make our API more secure, the risk will always be present.
- Clarity in the use of APIs: Some companies use APIs as a last resort and, from time to time, do not provide complete or well-ordered documentation, which makes the use of APIs somewhat complicated.
- Some APIs lack quality: Sometimes they are not considered important within companies, which is a bit of a concern.
What types of APIs are there?
APIs according to their usage policies
1. Public or open APIs
Public APIs are also known as open APIs and are available for other users or developers to use with minimal restrictions.
2. Private or internal APIs
These are hidden from external users and are exposed only for an organization’s internal systems. They are used for internal business development, optimizing productivity and service reuse.
3. Business Partner APIs
They are those that are exposed among the members of a commercial alliance. As they are not available to everyone, special authorization is required to use them.
4. Composite APIs
Composite APIs use different data or service APIs and allow developers to access multiple endpoints.
How do APIs work?
APIs can work in four different ways, depending on when and why they were created.
1. SOAP APIs
These APIs use the simple object access protocol. The client and server exchange messages via XML. This is a less flexible API that was more popular in the past.
2. RPC APIs
These APIs are called remote procedure calls. The client completes a function on the server, and the server returns the result to the client.
3. WebSocket API
The WebSocket API is another modern web API development that uses JSON objects to pass data. The WebSocket API supports bidirectional communication between client applications and the server.
4. REST APIs
These are the most popular and flexible APIs found on the web today. The client sends requests to the server as data. The server uses this input from the client to initiate internal functions and returns the output data to the client.
What are the advantages of APIs?
APIs are able to deliver great advantages, such as:
- Applications: access to APIs ensures greater flexibility in information transfer processes.
- Efficiency: by having content published automatically and made available in several channels simultaneously, APIs allow data to be distributed more efficiently.
- Adaptability: It has the ability to adapt to changes through data migration and service flexibility.
- Scope: It is possible to create layers of applications in order to distribute information to different audiences.
- Personalization: You can create differentiated user experiences, allowing protocols, functions and commands to be adapted according to specific requirements.
Here are some of the most popular API examples:
- Google Maps: thanks to the standards applied by Google, most websites can use Google Maps APIs to integrate maps.
- Weather API: a provider of geolocation and weather information services with several APIs ranging from weather forecasting to time zone lookups, astronomy and more.
APIs have become a tool used by many companies, as they serve all kinds of purposes, whether for financial and online payments, e-commerce, administration or localization, etc.
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