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What is an API? Application Programming Interface explained

What Is An API – Application Programming Interface?

What is an API? With the incremented utilization of apps, we need to understand the concepts behind building the apps and web-based infrastructures. For this reason, we are shedding light on API, which is a common term for an application programming interface. This is rather a concept that has various applications, such as web apps, enterprise Java codes, and command-line tools. The API is a process for programming interaction with distinctive software or resource. In this article, we are sharing the intricacies of API for your ease!

API – What Does It Mean?

By definition, it is the specification of potential interaction with the components (programming and software components). For instance, if we look at the car as a component, the API would share information about the features and specifications focusing on functionality; this would include brakes, acceleration, availability of a movie player.

Also, it shares how these features can be used. However, it doesn’t explain the entities of internal systems. In simpler words, API shares “how” and “what” parts of the components.

The Abstract Layers

While we ponder upon software, API will be readily available as they go hand-in-hand with abstraction. Abstraction is defined as the organization of complex system components and simplifying complicated actions. The abstraction layers receive the complex yet overwhelming data amount and set out the simple interactions.

The Uses Cases of API

There are various classifications of API depending upon the systems that they are designed for. In this section, we are sharing various use cases, depending on the API!

Database API

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This API is responsible for enabling communication between the management systems and the app. The app developers tend to work with the database through table changing, data access, and query writing. For instance, Oracle, CouchDB, and MySQL are examples of database API.

OS API

These APIs define how the apps interact and utilize the services and resources of the operating system. Every operating system is designed with APIs, be Linux or Windows. In addition, iOS and macOS have the API information and reference in the developer documentation.

Remote API

These APIs are responsible for defining the interaction standards for the apps. For instance, when one software accesses the resources from the third-party device (the one requesting). As a result, the remote applications connect to each other through the communication network, such as the internet. In this range, the Java Database Connectivity API makes a perfect example of a remote API.

Web API

This is the most common category of APIs. It’s the transfer of functionality and offers machine-readable data. This transfer is between the web systems that are representing the architecture of the client and server. Web API helps deliver the requests from servers (HTTP is used for this purpose).

The API Protocols & Specifications

The prime objective of API is to standardize the data exchanges between various services. Standardization refers to the ability of the diverse system to communicate with each other, irrespective of the operating system, programming language, or technology. With this being said, there are various specifications explained below!

RPC

This is the remote procedure call that outlines the interaction between various applications (it works with client-server apps only). It might be called a function call or subroutine.

SOAP

This is the service object access protocol and is famous for the lightweight configuration. SOAP is for exchanging information in a distributed environment. SOAP is actually the product of Microsoft, and it is enriched with syntax rules for response and request messages.

REST

This is the architectural style software designed with around six constraints for app development and building. It works on web services and HTTP. This is often considered to be an alternative to SOAP since SOAP can be hard to manage since coding demands rigorous tasking.

GraphQL

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GraphQL was basically designed and developed by Facebook and is now being used by Yelp, Shopify, and Coursera. This protocol is designed with efficient data processing, development of features, and better adoption. It could be considered the query language that empowers the users to detail out the data that’s essential for simplification of aggregation (it is possible with various resources as well).

The apps with GraphQL helps control the data-fetching from various servers. As a result, the apps simplify the processing and functionality, promising quick service even with a slower mobile connection.

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