What is an API and How Does it Work?
APIs have been demonstrated to be beneficial and worthwhile in mobile apps with APIs such as Paypal, Twitter, Gmail, Youtube, Amazon, and Accuweather, to name a few. But before that, we must know what is an API?
More than a decade back, developers widely used APIs to communicate with software.
Learn all about what APIs do, why APIs exist, and the many benefits. This blog explains an API using simple terms with a practical example. You’ll learn what an API can do for your app, basic level information about API keys, API endpoints, protocols and the common API functionalities.
So without further ado, let’s begin with the acronym for API. Application Programming Interface through which two applications talk to each other.
What is an API?
APIs are mechanisms and set of protocols. The two communicate with each other with a set of responses and requests.
In order to understand the API, check this video given down below to know what are endpoints, protocols, or API keys. They also didn’t show real API examples, which brings us to some valid questions.
What is an API?
A set of subroutine definitions, communication protocols, and tools for building software. Each time you use an app like Facebook, send an instant message or check the weather on your phone, you’re using an API.
What are APIs used for?
APIs are used in programming and web development, so it is important to understand how to use them.
There is purpose-built for express use — to allow communication between applications.
An API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of functions that allows applications to access data and interact with external software components, operating systems, or microservices. To simplify, an API delivers a user response to a system and sends the system’s response back to a user.
The pop-up window you see with a Pay with PayPal option, what you experience in front of your screen in the form of a pop-up window is due to the result of the PayPal API in action.
Do you want to know what is an API?
All APIs are coded libraries made from scratch by a developer and documented so that other developers can use it without having to re-code them.
What are Layers of Communication?
First, answer this question.
A quick question that you can easily answer. How do apps let you create an account and log in with your Facebook or Google account credentials?
Here is another one that you can think about too. How does the weather app talk to another system?
The way these two systems talk to each other is called an API. An API states the rule for communication to happen. The system takes the inputs it performs some technical tasks in the back. This layer of communication is called the endpoint, which serves as a point of contact to submit the inputs.
There is a protocol about what inputs are required and what result you will get in return with each endpoint. If you don’t apply the correct inputs, your request will be rejected. You also have to apply an API key with your request, which is just a unique ID to identify your app. This way, the system records who is accessing its endpoint.
An app can communicate through different APIs. All APIs will have some documentation describing how to communicate with the endpoints.
Examples of Some APIs
Some systems won’t have an API, so in that case, you won’t be able to talk to the system at all. Now see a more concrete example of working with an API.
National Weather Service API
For a quick weather update, you’ve used a weather API. There’s a proliferation of weather APIs out there. First of all, this weather API is entirely free.
If you’ve ever used a video streaming app, Netflix API configures your content for the intended device with heavy lifting on the backend of things.
Likewise, the Spotify API lets you engage with the Spotify library in several ways via an API. You can retrieve track info for your favourite TV series, albums, and any podcast of your favourite content creator.
We Use APIs All The Time
As you can see, APIs are not mystical tools rater. They function as a router that delivers your WiFi. Considering how digital with software and mobile apps are interconnected today, APIs are more prevalent for developers and end-users.
These are also some excellent APIs for the newcomers, the most useful ones out there, which could benefit the developers greatly if they explore the software.
What Happens When You Hit The Endpoint?
Let’s talk about Jason’s placeholder having dummy data. You can get the pull request and test it across multiple operating systems and versions of your runtime.
We put inputs in the form of parameters, supply a date range, which field you want to sort by publish date, and the most important thing is the publish date. Endpoints and inputs that are required will have a record to identify who is accessing their API.
Supply your API Key to access. Date range sort by popularity, upon passing in the required inputs and passing in the API key so when you hit enter, you make that request to the endpoint and get the results according to the specified parameters. The data format is called JSON that can be used for parsing, processing and extracting this information to use in the app.
The Common API Functionality
Here are some of the common APIs that we commonly interact with as an internet user which includes E-commerce payment, linking Amazon products to your website, and the use of Google Maps for directions. Some more common ones are
- – Interact and exchange information with social media apps
- – Login with Facebook, Github, or even Google
- – Weather
- – Data collection
- – Blog comments
- – User creation
There are thousands of APIs, and you can browse through directories. APIs are the powerhouse they are today in programming. Of course, third-party authorization and eCommerce payment APIs are common that we interact with daily.
Hope this blog helps in knowing what is an API. The basics of API that are outlined above make it easier for you to work with an API. Some systems will have an API and offer an SDK you can download and use in your project, making it easier for you to work with that particular API.