API or Application Programming Interface, is a set of functions and procedures that allow systems to be integrated, allowing their functionalities to be reused by other applications or software.
An API is use to exchange data between different types of software and thus automate procedures and develop new functionalities.
How Does it Work?
An API is a bridge connecting various software or applications and can be written in various programming languages. In addition to sound development, an API must have clear and objective documentation to facilitate its implementation.
There is also a pattern in web APIs called REST ( Representational State Transfer ), a set of rules and definitions that allows you to develop projects with well-define interfaces.
What Types of API are There?
We will see below four types of APIs regarding their sharing policies.
API, according to their usage policies
1. Public or Open API
Public APIs are also identified as open APIs and are available for other users or developers to use with minimal restrictions or, in some cases, are even fully accessible.
2. Private or Internal API
Private or internal APIs are hidden from external users and exposed only to an organization’s internal systems. They are used for the internal development of the company, optimizing productivity, and also the reuse of services.
3. Business Partner APIS
Trade Alliance APIs are expose between members of a trade alliance. Since they are not available to everyone, special authorization is need to use them.
4. Composite Apis
Composite APIs use different data or service APIs and allow developers to access multiple endpoints.
Likewise, we can divide the APIs according to what they offer or use cases, as you will see now.
APIs according to your use cases
1. Data API
Data APIs provide multiple databases or SaaS ( Software as a Service ) providers with CRUD ( Create, Read, Update, Delete ) access to underlying data sets, enabling communication between an application and a data system. and database management.
2. Operating system APIs
This group of APIs defines how applications use the available resources and services of the operating system. So each OS ( Operating System ) has a set of APIs; for example, Windows API or Linux API have kernel-user space API and kernel internal API .
3. Remote Apis
This group defines applications’ interaction standards on different devices; software accesses specific resources outside the requesting device, as its name implies. As two applications are connect remotely over a network, the remote APIs use protocols to achieve the connection.
4. Web Apis
This class of APIs is the most common, as web APIs provide data that devices can read and transfer between web-based systems or client-server architecture.
Protocols of API
API protocols allow standardizing data exchange between different web services. It allows access to capabilities on various systems, through different programming languages, and on different operating systems.
Here are the most important:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
Remote Procedure Call or RPC allows web APIs to adhere to resource-sharing principles. What this protocol intends is to define the interaction between applications based on a program that requests data client and another that provides it server remotely.
Service Object Access Protocol (Soap)
It is a light protocol for exchanging structured information and a decentralized and distributed environment. Its specifications contain the syntax rules for requests and also responses sent by applications.
Applications that adhere to these principles allow XML messaging between systems via HTTP ( Hypertext Transfer Protocol ) or SMTP ( Simple Mail Transfer Protocol ).
Representational State Transfer (Rest)
REST is a software architecture style with six constraints for building applications that work over HTTP, especially web services.
It is consider an alternative to SOAP , since multiple developers find it difficult to use it by writing large amounts of code to perform a task. And on the other hand, REST follows another logic as it facilitates data availability as resources.
What are the Advantages of API?
Like almost any Industry 4.0 element or solution, APIs can deliver various benefits thanks to their use.
Here are the main ones:
- Applications: access to APIs guarantees greater flexibility in information transfer processes.
- Scope: through them, it is possible to create application layers to distribute information to different audiences.
- Personalization: Likewise, it can serve as a solution to create differentiate experiences for the user, allowing protocols, functions, and commands to be adapted according to specific requirements.
- Efficiency: by having content publish automatically and made available on various channels simultaneously, APIs allow for more efficient data distribution.
- Adaptability: one of the great benefits of APIs is their ability to adapt to changes through data migration and service flexibility.
Examples of API
Next, we will show you some of the most popular API examples:
- Google Maps: Thanks to the standards applied by Google, most websites can use the Google Maps APIs to integrate maps.
- Vulcan: This cross-platform API enables developers to create high-quality, real-time graphical interfaces in applications, providing faster and also more efficient communication between apps and graphics processing units.
- Skyscanner: This metasearch platform makes it easy for travelers to find the best flight rates. Additionally, it provides an XML and JSON compliant trading partner API for data exchange.
- Weather API: A geolocation and weather information service provider with various APIs ranging from weather forecasting to time zone lookups, astronomy, and also more.
Innovation with API
Finally, we will explain how an API can become an ideal tool to facilitate integration with applications.
Through this type of API, your business can integrate systems within your company’s website or app to expand payment methods for your products and services.
Social networks also offer innovations with APIs to enrich the user experience and incorporate features to obtain information about visitors or create users or profiles on your site from Facebook and Google accounts, among others.
Some of the most popular APIs we have already mentioned allows us to offer users specific information and also services in a given location, enhancing the experience.
Application Programming Interface is based on a set of definitions and protocols that aim to integrate systems and also facilitate communication between software applications according to a series of rules.
The digital transformation has allowed people and organizations access thousands of applications and interfaces to simplify their daily routines and processes, even in an integrated way.
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