Application programming interface (API) provides an interface. This interface allows two applications or software to communicate with each other. And exchange each other’s data and functionality.
Let us explore more about API and know-how it has leveraged the innovations. How the interaction between different platforms has become possible.
Application Programming Interface (API)
Define Application Programming Interface
API is a set of defined functions. The software developers while developing the software use these functions. So that developed software can easily communicate with the other software and applications.
API provides an easy and secure way for products and services to interact with each other. It also helps the products and services leverage each other’s data. Along with their functionality through an interface.
The software developer is not aware of how this interface has been implemented. They simply use the interface provided by API to communicate with other software.
Working of API
As API is a set of functions that provides a way for applications to communicate with one another. API sits between the communicating entities and processes the data transfer between them.
Consider that an application wants to retrieve some information from the webserver. The series of events that will take place to perform this task are:
Step 1: The application program on the client side invokes the API function. That request for a piece of information.
Step 2: API processes this request function. And call out the webserver.
Step 3: The web server responds to the API. And provide the requested information.
Step 4: API then forwards the information to the application. That has been requested for this particular information.
Thus, the process of an application requests a piece of information from the web server. And the web server responds with the requested information. And this happens through the interface provided by an API.
As API act as a mediator between the two communicating systems. It offers security while providing the abstraction of functionalities between the two systems.
As API separates the requesting and responding systems from each other.
The API call to the webserver has authorized credentials. This minimizes the risk of an attack on the server.
The API gateway also restricts access to the webserver. This reduces security threats.
Example of API Security
Let us consider that two systems over the network are communicating with each other via some app. The API between communicating entities, never let the systems expose their data or information to each other.
The communication between them takes place with small data packets. These data have only the information that the communicating entities want to share.
Requirement of API
We always need an application programming interface (API) to design application programs. Or to manage the existing application programs. API is the most important tool to simplify the communication between two systems.
Knowingly or unknowingly a company uses several cloud applications. API provides the interface. This interface creates a platform for these cloud applications. Through this platform, the cloud applications can interact with the systems of the company.
In this way, the company improve its workplace collaboration. Thereby API improves the connectivity between the company’s systems and cloud applications. This leverages the company’s performance and productivity.
API provides flexibility to the connecting entities. Thus, the new business partners can easily connect with each other. And thereby use each other services. This led to the innovation of digital transformation.
API set a layer of protection between the requesting and the responding entities. It doesn’t allow the connecting entities to explore detailed information about each other. It can be further improved by introducing tokens, signatures and encryption.
Initially, the companies can provide their API services for free. And when it gains a substantial number of users it can monetize the API service. Thereby profiting the company in their credits.
Types of API
Most of the APIs now provide the interface over the internet. Thus, we refer to it as web API. The web API can be classified as
- Open API
- Partner API
- Internal API
- Composite API
These are the open-source APIs. You can access this API with HTTP protocols. These are developer-friendly APIs and can be accessed easily. The Open API has predefined request and response formats.
These kinds of APIs are used by business partners to communicate with each other. To access each other’s API, the partners must provide the login credentials.
These APIs are hidden and are not exposed to external users. These APIs are used within the company to provide an interface to the developing teams of the company.
The composite API provides the data and functionalities of several sources. It combines the data and functions from different sources. Thus, the developer can access several services by invoking a single function.
Thus, the concept of an application programming interface is applicable everywhere. It helps the communicating software to communicate without knowing its technicalities.