What is an API?

api    Published: 4 months, 3 weeks ago


Fermesk Rashidi


What is an API    

API is one of the common terms in programming and development area. If you are new to web development, probably you are not familiar enough with APIs and their applications. According to the Wikipedia API is an acronym for an application programming interface.  

As a programmer when you start to learn the codes in specific languages, building APIs and deployment would be a regular task for you because APIs are the most essential part of web and app developing.

In this article, we decided to explain APIs more accurate. I found the API descriptions  more obscure than explicit and understandable. If we want to make it simple, we can say APIs in the first place are tools. They are the software intermediary that providing communications between 2 application. Applications can easily talk to each other via APIs. how?

Before the the introduction of computer systems in various industries, human being was considered to be the one who was supposed to have the greatest interaction with computer software, so that no matter what the software did, from editing images to sending emails, etc, Human was the focus of attention as the entity that was supposed to work with the software, so that he was interacting with the software through the User Interface that called UI.

Over time and technology advances, for some reason like simplicity and rapidity instead of human interaction with software, software itself could interact without human intervention, while a computer system, unlike the human that need to see a special button to click on it to get the desired data, in spite of the fact that a software such as human did not need to have a user-friendly UI for communication with other software, and here the concept of API Formed.

In order to better understand API, Consider something like electricity. We can consider electricity as a service provided through a power outlet to power laptop, fan, vacuum cleaner. We don’t need to know how electricity works, we just use it for our intentions.

Similarly, a service like electricity is the same service software company like Google gives us. It allows us to access Google's data. For example, you have designed a mobile application that users can order pizza. For this purpose, you need a map on your application so users can set their location and order the pizza on nearest pizza delivery. Simply you can use google map API for your purpose. You don’t need to know how exactly google map behind the scene does, but you just get an map API from google and show it to users on your application. You can see there are 2 applications( pizza delivery app and google map) talk and communicate with each other in the backend.

Google map is just an example of thousands of useful APIs that you can use as a new developer. You clearly see instead of put too much energy an on complex and repetetive works, you can just easily put your focus on the main product that you want to build. APIs allow a programmer to write code to one software, that can then carry out certain desired actions, without a programmer having to write that software from scratch.

Depend on the language you use like python or PHP, applications of API can be different.

APIs have vast usage in computer programming. For example, an API can be used for a web-based system, operating system, database system, computer hardware, or software library. When you go to a website by your phone and click on a link, the link you clicked connects to the Internet and sends data to a server. The server then retrieves that data, interprets it, performs the necessary actions and sends it back to your phone.

Similarly, an API lists a bunch of operations that developers can use, along with a description of what they do. The developer doesn’t necessarily need to know how, for example, an operating system builds and presents a “Save As” dialog box. They just need to know that it’s available for use in their app.

A website uses a URL address to make a call to a server and pull up a webpage in a browser. APIs also facilitate calls to a server, but they execute it more simply. They connect the web, allowing developers, applications, and sites to tap into databases and services (or, assets)—much like open-source software. APIs do this by acting like a universal converter plug offering a standard set of instructions.

APIs have such an important rule in the digital world. Without APIs, lots of digital connection cannot be possible.