What is an API?

API is acronym of “Application programming interface”. API is used for providing communication between software applications. Software Application can be anything like web application, SaaS, MBaaS, mobile app, Cloud service, database connection or notification etc.

Why API?
API is used for communication between software applications and can also used for internal use e.g. using API you fetch other server data and use it in your database. You can use the API in various scenarios. Many companies use the API for business applications. For example you can check the flight booking websites where they fetch different flights booking data and inform you the airline, flight details, ticket cost and where seats are

Let’s understand the API using an example:
Imagine you are in restaurant and you have menu in your table and you call the waiter and request the order. Second, waiter take request from you and send request to the kitchen. And third, waiter takes response from the kitchen and serves to you.

So like in the three steps:
 In first case you request some order.
 Second request is sent to the kitchen by waiter.
 And in third you get response from kitchen by waiter.

So here waiter is playing a role of an API which provides the communication between you and the kitchen and delivered the data. Now technically understand this API as a waiter which “Running back and forth between application, database and devices to deliver data
and create the connectivity the puts worlds at our fingertips”.

How API Works:
API returns the in the format of XML and JSON format. An application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications.

Benefits of API
a. API is useful if you want some other data functionality in your web app and other software fetches the data.
b. It makes coding an easier task for developer and using this developer can design a better workflow in less time
c. Using an API an organization can share the data securely with external developers according to requirement
d. It allows the sharing of content and can be embedded in any site or application easily.
e. API provides access to live information
f. Using API access mobile applications can deliver services and information easily

Some of the popular API Frameworks are:

Popular usages of API
Using APIs in your software product or services, you have access to useful technical features such as:

  • User authentication and management
  • Data storage
  • Push notifications
  • Social network integration
  • Business applications
  • Aggregation of data
  • Develop mobile apps
  • Cloud computing
  • Third party computing

1. Popular Examples of API
Google Analytics – https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/integrate/
Google Maps – https://cloud.google.com/maps-platform/
Facebook – https://developers.facebook.com/docs/web/
Twitter – https://developer.twitter.com/en/docs/twitter-for-websites/overview
Twillo – https://www.twilio.com/docs
PayPal – https://developer.paypal.com/docs/api/overview/
Amazon – https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonS3/latest/API/Welcome.html
Zapier – https://zapier.com/learn/apis/
Box – https://developer.box.com/reference/

API’s are now an integral part of software development. Software developers can use them to widely extend the capabilities of a software product. API’s save considerable time and resources as it provides an advanced way to access and manage data.