July | 2023

What is API (Application Programming Interface)

what is api

API facilitates the effective communication among two different software elements that follows a specific set of definitions and protocols. API in full form, Application Programming Interface software interface lets the applications interact with one another without any user intervening in it.

In simple words, API means a set of software functions and processes. It is a software code that lets products and services interact with other products and services without any need to know how they get deployed.

For instance, if you consider a weather bureau system that records everyday weather information, the weather application on your phone communicates to the system via ‘APIs’ and brings everyday weather updates to your device.

Let’s explore more about APIs, how they work, their benefits, and their applications in detail.

Table of Contents
  1. How do APIs work?
  2. Why do we need an API?
  3. Core Features of API
  4. Classification of API
  5. Explaining the Communication level of APIs
  6. Understanding Rest APIs Vs Web APIs
  7. Importance of using REST APIs
  8. What are API Integrations?
  9. Applications of API
  10. How to build an API?
  11. What is API Testing?
  12. How to use an API?
  13. Real-time API Examples
  14. To Conclude

How do APIs work?

How do APIs work?

Explaining API architecture is the best in terms of client and server relationships. While the application that sends a request makes the client, the application that sends a response forms the server.

In the above example of the weather bureau system, the weather database is the server while the mobile app forms the client. There are 4 methods where APIs function based on when and why they get developed.

  1. SOAP APIs
  2. SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. SOAP APIs facilitate client and server exchange with the help of XML. This is the less flexible API which was much more popular before.

  3. RPC APIs
  4. Known as Remote Procedure Calls, these APIs complete a function on the server, while the server pushes the output to the client back.

  5. WebSocket APIs
  6. Being another advanced web API solution, it uses JSON objects to transfer data. It lets two-way communication among client apps and servers. The server then sends the callback notifications to the clients who see connected, which makes them highly efficient compared to REST APIs.

  7. REST APIs
  8. These are the most well-known and flexible APIs available digitally today. The client prompts sending requests to the server in the form of information. The server takes this client input and begins the internal functions to finally return the output data to the Client back.

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Why do we need an API?

Why do we need an API?

Here are certain reasons for using API:

-   API facilitates the communication and exchange of data between two different software
-   It lets you embed the content from any application or website easily.
-   It can effectively access the application components where the delivery of services and data becomes more flexible.
-   Publishing of the generated content can be done automatically.
-   It lets a company or the user perform content or service customization effectively.
-   The software should change with time and APIs let you easily anticipate these changes.

Core Features of API

Here are some important characteristics of API:

-  It provides value-based services in terms of function, data, audience, etc.
-  It lets you plan the business models effectively.
-  You can adopt a simple and flexible approach.
-  The system stays managed and measured.
-  It offers excellent support to the developer.

Classification of API

Let's take a glance at the four major types of APIs:

  1. Open APIs: They are publicly accessible to use from Google. There is no restriction to use these APIs, so they are called public APIs.
  2. Partner APIs: Gaining access to this type of API needs specific licenses or rights since they aren't available to the public.
  3. Internal APIs: Companies use these APIS to leverage them in the internal systems. It lets you scale the productivity of the teams.
  4. Composite APIs: This API combines various data and service-level APIs.

Explaining the Communication level of APIs

Explaining the Communication level of APIs

The basic communication level of APIs includes:

  • High-Level APIs:

    These are usually used in REST form, which offers programmers a high abstraction level. These APIs focus on performing limited functionality.

  • Low-level APIs:

    These APIs have the minimum level of abstraction which is more detailed. They allow the programmers to alter the functions within the app module and hardware at the granular level.

    Understanding Rest APIs Vs Web APIs

    Understanding Rest APIs Vs Web APIs

    REST or Representational State Transfer is a set of functions like PUT, GET, DELETE, and so on. The clients can use it to access the server data, where they exchange data with each other with HTTP.

    The core feature of REST API is its statelessness. This means that the servers find it unable to save the client data between the requests.

    The client requests sent to servers work similarly to URLs you hit in the browser for visiting a website. The server response is plain information with no graphical representation of a web page.

    Coming to Web APIs, it is an application processing interface that a web browser and a web server uses. While every web service is an API, every API is not a web service.

    REST API is a particular type of web API that utilizes the conventional architectural style.

    Various terms like Java API, and service APIs have been here for a long time because APIs were developed even before the World Wide Web.

    The advanced web APIs are ideally the REST APIs, so we can see these terms used interchangeably.

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    Importance of using REST APIs:

    Importance of using REST APIs

    The four major benefits of using REST APIs are:

    1. Integration
    2. APIs are useful in integrating new applications with the current software systems. This improves the speed of the development because every functionality need not be written from the beginning. You can utilize the APIs to scale the existing code.

    3. Innovation
    4. Every industry changes with the arrival of a new application. Businesses should respond promptly and augment the rapid deployment of advanced services. Making differences in the API level helps businesses do this with no need to rewrite the entire code.

    5. Expansion
    6. API offers a unique opportunity for businesses to suit the client's requirements across various platforms. For instance, maps API facilitates the integration of map information through Android, websites, iOS, etc. Every business can give similar access to internal databases with the help of free and paid APIs.

    7. Ease of Maintenance
    8. API builds a gateway between two systems. Every system is responsible to create internal changes so that it doesn't impact the API. Thus, the future code changes by one party can't affect the other.

    What are API Integrations

    API Integrations refer to the software components that automatically update the information between client and server.

    Some instances of API integrations include the automatic sync of the data from the device gallery to the cloud, the auto-time sync on the device while traveling, etc.

    Applications of API

    Applications of API

    Let's understand the important applications of API:

    -   Expanding footprint
    -   Batch distribution or driving traffic
    -   Development of features
    -   Identifying new business models
    -   Internal content distribution and innovation
    -   Content acquisition Innovative Business Models

    How to build an API?

    Building an API that the developers need to operate with needs due diligence and effort. Let’s walk through the five steps required to build a high-quality API design:

    1. Plan APIs
    2. ecifications such as OpenAI, offer the blueprint for the API design. You need to assess the various use cases beforehand to confirm that API follows all the present API development standards.

    3. Build APIs
    4. The API experts perform the API prototyping with boilerplate codes. After testing the prototype, developers can customize this to suit internal specifications.

    5. Test APIs
    6. API Testing is similar to software testing and needs to avoid bugs and any defects. API testing tools can help to test these APIs against possible cyber attacks.

    7. Document APIs
    8. API documentation is a guide that scales usability. Well-documented APIs provide a range of functions and applications which are highly popular in a service-oriented architecture.

    9. Market APIs
    10. Just like Amazon, the online marketplace, API is a marketplace available for developers where they can buy and sell the APIs. You can monetize the API by listing it.

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    What is API Testing?

    What is API Testing?

    API testing techniques work similarly to the other software testing methods. The key focus of API testing is to validate the server responses. The responsibility of API testing includes:

  • Creating multiple requests to the API endpoints to implement performance testing
  • Implementing unit tests to evaluate the business logic and operational correctness
  • Security testing with the simulation system attacks
  • How to use an API?

    The steps toward implementing the new API are below:

    1. Getting an API key, after creating a verified account with the help of an API provider.
    2. Set up the HTTP API client which lets you structure the API requests effectively with the received API keys.
    3. If the API client is not available, try structuring the request yourself in the browser referring to the API documentation.
    4. Refer to the API documentation to structure the request in the web browser.
    5. After you get comfortable with the new API syntax, start utilizing it in your code.
      1. Real-time API Examples

        Real-time API Examples

        Here are some API examples of everyday life that utilize various protocols and specifications.

      2. Google Maps: of the tech giants and have set the specific standard, for the ways businesses operate. Several websites which have integrated maps make use of Google Maps APIs. For instance, the directions API of Google uses HTTP requests to return the directions between geolocations.
      3. Skyscanner Flight Search: This meta-search platform lets travelers check for flights at the best possible rates from the database of prices available. It offers REST APIs to the affiliate partners and also uses only HTTPS protocol while making requests.
      4. Weather API: This free weather information and geolocation provider has various APIs that range from IP lookup, weather forecast data, geolocation, time zone, etc. Here, the developers use HTTPS OR HTTP for API requests.
      5. To Conclude

        Businesses are transforming digitally quicker than ever to maintain the competition and meet the increasing customer demands.

        APIs are the ways to help companies digitize, connect and innovate these throughout the products and services they offer.

        The API-driven approach can help your business to simplify and scale up the go-to-market strategies, foster customer experiences, increase operational agility and speed, build and pursue the market, revenue, channel opportunities, etc.

        If you wish to deploy web app and API integration services to experience the best from feature-rich apps and APIs, let's talk today!

        IPIX Technologies is a web development company in India that provide a solid foundation for building a successful business. Our expert team of professionals with their hard work and determination will pave the way for extraordinary accomplishments. Feel free to let us help you pursue your goals. Experience the power of innovative web design with IPIX Technologies.

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