When we talk about application development and programming we hear the term API a lot. But, what is an API and what does API stand for? API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is a link or intermediary between two applications that let them talk/communicate with each other. It defines how to make calls and requests between applications, their kinds like how to make requests. In simple words API acts like a messenger that sends your requests to the server and sends back the server’s response to you.
What does API stand for
Why is API used?
The need to share different types of data is increasing regularly. Lets understand with an example why do we use API? Suppose you’re in a situation where you have to retrieve data from a website. This could be anything so if there were no APIs then developers themselves have to visit the website and interact with the data. This approach is not smart and is very time consuming.
Now if we have APIs then the developer can easily retrieve the data using the API. He does not have to deal with all the data and download it to perform his task.
So an API helps the developers to think more on app development and focus less about data. API also communicates application to application like Google Drive, Amazon etc.
What is an example of an API?
When someone uses an application on phone the application establishes a connection with internet and connects with the server. It sends data to the server. The sever then deals with data performs the necessary actions and then sends it back to the user.
Lets understand all this with a restaurant example. So suppose you’re in a restaurant where you have to order your choice from a list of menu. Now you know the order that you are going to place will be prepared in Kitchen. So the thing missing here is the link between you and the kitchen which is a Waiter. So simply here waiter is an API that takes order from you and and informs the Kitchen what to prepare. After that the Waiter responds you back and delivers you the food you requested.
So the API is like a Waiter in this case that makes a link between the person (user) and Kitchen (System).
What is a real world example of API?
We all have heard of GOOGLE Maps. Billions of mobile devices world wide use GOOGLE Maps to find routes, directions etc. Now many other applications use GOOGLE Maps APIs to send directions, customized locations, to provide better location data and sharing. Because they want to provide the best user experiences to their customers.
Business app developers do not have much opportunities to find anything else than GOOGLE Map APIs. Business app developers use GOOGLE provided APIs to find the best destination routes and vehicle locations. Ride sharing apps use GOOGLE APIs to find out the exact location of their customers. When it comes to location almost every app is dependent on the APIs provided by GOOGLE Maps because its all about location.
What are the types of API?
As we know Application Programming Interface allows many components of the software to connect with each other. These components share their functionalities and data with each other. The software providers use several types of APIs according to the features and preferences they are offering.
Representational State Transfer or simply REST is a common API that does not follow a specific set of protocols. REST is considered as a user-friendly API and because of this feature many developers are experienced in dealing with it. REST offers a flexible integration for developers to achieve their goals.
Simple Object Access Protocol or SOAP is an API used to connect different platforms with each other through HTTP and XML. SOAP is defined by a specific set of rules. When we compare SOAP with REST we see that its requirements and structure are more rigid comparing to REST. Its an older type API and web applications are moving away from this API.
ASP.NET is a specific REST API designed with .NET technology. With the help of this API one can send HTTP protocol messages to a variety of platforms. Mostly it needs a Windows server to easily work with this technology.
So APIs can help us in a variety of ways. With the help of APIs we can manage the work through computers rather than people. They provide flexible delivery of services and information because they can access different application components. We can create an application layer with the help of an API that can distribute services and information to the new audience. In this way it will be a good user experience for the new users.
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