27 Feb API – What It Means and How It Works
In this article, we are going to discuss what an API stands for and how it works.
So, what does API mean? API is an acronym that stands for application programming interface. APIs direct various components of software (or computer programs) and the routines, tools, and protocols that access other applications’ features and data. APIs are generally used for user interface infrastructure and front-end graphics.
In other words, it is the language that all programmers must utilize to properly talk to programs and communicate efficiently. APIs allow computers to “talk” to each other and pass along data or information to carry out connections. There are three main components of APIs and that is the user (individual making request), the client (computer sending request), and the server (computer responding to request). There are also various types of APIs, some of which are used every day. These APIs can be classified into 3 main sections – Ownership Web APIs, Communication Level APIs, and Web Service APIs.
Ownership Web APIs
According to RapidAPI.com, there are 4 commonly used Web APIs.
- Composite APIs – Combine various service and data APIs, with the main purpose of enhancing performance and execution
- Internal (or Private) APIs – Run on internal systems, generally for in-house/in-company use only, with the main purpose of enhancing services and products
- Open APIs – Are available to the public with no restrictions, also referred to as Public APIs
- Partner APIs – Generally not accessible without specific licenses or rights
Communication Level APIs
There are two types of Communication Level APIs. High-Level APIs are used by programmers for removing details or attributes to focus on the main elements to perform with limited functionality. The purpose of this is to simplify programs for certain users or provide limited access for safety protocol.
The other type is simply a Low-Level API which is more detailed than the High-Level, “which allows the programmer to manipulate functions within an application module or within hardware at a granular level. Usually, Low-level APIs are used in sending real-time video or media feed.”
Web Service APIs
These APIs utilize web addresses or URLs to connect services to mobile, desktop, or other website applications. In other words, these APIs allow web services to be accessible by users on the internet. There are four subcategories that are broken down by behaviors and communication styles in the programming.
- SOAP – Simple Object Access Protocol uses a unique communications protocol which provides a much higher level of security
- XML-RPC – Extensible Markup Language – Remote Procedure Calls uses specific XML format to transfer data is simpler, older, and utilizes less bandwidth
- REST – Representational State Transfer uses “URIs (Uniform Resource Identifier) HTTP protocol, and the use of JSON for a data format, which is super browser-compatible. REST APIs can be simple to build and scale as compared to other types of APIs.”
Knowing what APIs are and what types or categories they fall into distinguishing everyday API uses. Some common things that utilize APIs are Email, Finance, Cloud, Sports, Music, Video Games, Mapping, Data, and virtually every company that utilizes a website. The following are various platforms that commonly use APIs.
- Facebook uses various APIs in daily functionality. The Facebook API “is a platform for building applications that are available to the members of the social network of Facebook. The API allows applications to use the social connections and profile information to make applications more involving, and to publish activities to the news feed and profile pages of Facebook, subject to individual users’ privacy settings.”
- eBay has a list of all the APIs that it has to offer to help enhance the selling experience of users. An example of an eBay API could be the ‘Buy APIs,” which communicate with other applications on the platform for doing actions such as retrieving purchased items, tracking orders, and even checking out.
- Google Maps
- Google Maps uses a series of intricate APIs. An example of which could be when you search for an address and various options pop up when it is located, i.e., to call, reviews, images, each separate option operates on an API to retrieve this information and aggregate for the end-user.
- Twitter also offers a series of APIs. A specific example of a Twitter API is when users ‘Direct Message’ each other it has to interact with an API to connect Twitter Profiles and to send the appropriate message.
Without APIs, the platform would not have messaging, retweets, or a feed.APIs with the data they store and transfer, make almost all of our internet communications between each other, websites, and servers possible. GeoTel utilizes various advanced APIs for one of the largest telecommunications location-based databases. Be sure to fill out the form below and be the first to know of its new and advanced API releases.
Author: Valerie Stephen