image by israel palacio

API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is a part of the server that receives requests and sends responses.

For instance, a website page on the internet is stored somewhere in a remote server, be it on the cloud or something. The remote server example can be your computer storage that is designed and optimized to process requests.

Now, when you type http://www.youtube.com on your browser, a request will be sent to youtube’s remote server. Once the youtube remote server receives the request, it then interpretes it and provide the response. The response will come back as the result and it will be displayed on the webpage.

In this case, the browser is said to be the “client” and the youtube remote server is said to be the “API.” Therefore, each time you visit the youtube page, you get to interact with the youtube remote server “API.”

Big companies have their APIs. some APIs are free, while others are not. Example of an API we have is the weather data API. Small and medium companies use the weather data API to provide services to their targeted clients. In this case these companies are able to “talk” directly to the weather data API server with a specific request. In return, the server would receive the request, process it, then send back relevant response to the “client” in this case the small and medium companies.

The different forms of APIs include the POSIX, routines, object classes, remote calls, data structures, Windows API, and variables. The usage of the API can vary depending on the type of programming language that is involved.

An API tend to describe and prescribe the expected behavior while the library is the actual implementation of the defined set of rules. A framework is based on the several libraries used to implement several APIs.

The design of any programming interfaces represent a vital part of the the software architecture, which is the complex piece of any software.

One may ask what is the point of having the API? The “client” for instance, is able to complete any action without having to leave the website they are in at that moment.

The video below will help you understand it further 🙂

Courtesy of Google Chrome Developers

We can the simply say that an API is a set of functions and procedures that allows for the creation of applications that access the features or data of an operating system, hardware, database systems, application, or other services.

The API is therefore a communication protocol and tool for building software and applications.

I hope this has broaden your knowledge and helped make API a common term to use from now onwards.

Now, below is a list of resources to help you understand more about API.

  • REST API Design – Resource Modeling found here.
  • Google Pay API here.
  • WordPress.com REST API Resources here.