What is an Application Programming Interface.
Application Programming Interface is software that acts as a medium that facilitates the communication between two applications. Payment gateways, maps etc are the most common use cases of APIs.
How does an Application Programming Interface work?
In some cases, APIs are considered documented contracts between two entities. If the remote request provided by one of them is structured in a certain way, it gets a response from the opposite side. An Application Programming Interfaces ensure the communication between two programs.
With the help of APIs, the integration of new features into existing architecture has been streamlined to a great extent.
Functioning of an API
1. Initiation of API call by a client application for information retrieval. The request is processed by the Uniform Resource Identifier in the API and consists of a request verb, headers, and a body, in some cases.
2. A call is made by the API to the external program/ server on receiving a valid request.
3. The server responds to the API with the necessary information.
4. Data is transferred to the requesting program by the API.
Most APIs are designed in a way that enhances security. This is mainly because an API acts as a bridge between two programs and is responsible for the abstraction of functionalities between them.
Access is minimized by including authorization credentials in the API calls.
What are the various kinds of Application Programming interfaces?
The four most important kinds of Application Programming interfaces are:
Open/Public APIs: They have predefined endpoints and formats for request and response. They can be accessed using the HTTP protocol.
Partner API: Partner APIs are used while collaborating with an external entity. It has a specific number of users. Their access us regulated using authorization mechanisms.
Private APIs: These are exclusive APIs for internal usage. They cannot be accessed by people outside the company and access is strictly regulated via authorization mechanisms.
What is an API endpoint?
An endpoint is a code that facilitates the communication between two programs. The endpoint would process a request, only if it provides a Uniform Resource Locator, list of headers and body, and a method.
What are Application Programming Interfaces used for?
Some of the real-time applications of API are:
Universal logins: APIs do the magic when you log in to 3rd party websites using your Gmail, Facebook, or Instagram ids.
Payment Gateways: Payments on different websites using credit cards, wallets, and other similar electronic payment methods. APIs facilitate safer transactions, protecting sensitive information.
Google Maps: APIs help you to use static and interactive maps as well as tracking feature on different product and e-commerce websites.