What is an API and How Do They Work?
In the process of improving your applications, you will eventually come across a term like API.
API stands for Application Programming Interface.
It is impossible to imagine modern development without APIs. This term has many definitions, but we will try to explain it as simple as possible.
API is like an open language, the rules of which are shared by a certain service.
You can teach your application the rules of this language, so it can communicate with the service and access all the functions and data that the service is ready to share.
Speaking a little more formally, API is an interface that allows your application to interact with an external service using a simple set of commands.
You do not need to know the internal logic of the service, just send a simple command and the service will return the necessary data.
For example, if you need to contact the news aggregator api and get ten of today’s most popular news from it, you refer to the “topnews” command (which the service described in advance in the public domain), and in response, the service will send you the latest collection of sensations.
Why are APIs important?
If there were no APIs, the functionality of your applications would be limited, and the development time would increase significantly since any function that is not implemented as a module as we need independent programming languages like
- C# / .NET
APIs to tie disparate applications together, allowing them to complement each other.
Like The hotel selection API uses an external API for recognizing and cataloguing photos of rooms, the same service itself through the API provides an opportunity to select and book hotel rooms, thus enriching the functionality of many travel applications.
If there were no API, each application would be limited to a narrow list of its own functions without the possibility of expanding it to something that others have already invented and used for a long time
Benefits of APIs
APIs allow you to save time when developing and help not to invent a bicycle.
It is much more efficient and more convenient to use the capabilities of one of the APIs than to try to independently implement similar functionality.
Moreover, it will be problematic to get some functions and data other than through the API (for example , a weather forecast api , a thematic selection of news or a high-quality translation from almost any language).
APIs recharge your applications with the latest technology. With APIs, you can teach your application the latest image recognition and natural language processing methods.
Types of APIs
There are four main types of APIs:
- Open APIs: Also known as Public APIs, there are no restrictions to access these types of APIs because they are publicly available.
- Partner APIs: One needs specific rights or licenses in order to access this type of APIs because they are not available to the public.
- Internal APIs: Also known as Private APIs, only internal systems expose this type of API, which is, therefore, less known and often meant to be used inside the company. The company uses this type of API among the different internal teams to be able to improve its products and services.
- Composite APIs: This type of API combines different data and service APIs. It is a sequence of tasks that run synchronously as a result of the execution and not at the request of a task. Its main uses are to speed up the process of execution and improve the performance of the listeners in the web interfaces.
These are the key elements in the interaction of your application with the API. Usually, it is a specific address (for example, https://newssite.com/topnews), by referring to which you get access to certain features/functions (in our case – a list of top news).
Commonly, the name (address) of the endpoint corresponds to the functionality it provides.
Having dealt with the basics of the API, let’s go a little further, namely, let’s deal with using request methods which we can communicate with the API.
Without getting into too much detail, Request Methods characterize what action we are going to take by referring to the API. In total, there are four main types of actions:
- GET- requests data from a server. This is the most common type of request. Using it we can get the data we are interested in from those that the API is ready to share.
- POST- adds new data to the server. Using this type of request, you can, for example, add a new contact to CRM.
- PUT: changes existing information. For example, using this type of request, it would be possible to change the color or value of an existing product.
- DELETE: deletes existing information
How to start using an API?
- Get an API Key
- Test API Endpoints
- Create your first App
Now we can collect everything that we learned together and create a step-by-step guide on how to use the API.
APIs are an integral part of the modern development ecosystem. Having spent a relatively short period of time studying them, you can use them to widely extend the capabilities of your own application.
Api Free for uses and testing