All about APIs
On the off chance that you need to find out about APIs, you’ve gone to the perfect spot! Programming interface represents application programming interface. APIs are the little bits of code that make it feasible for advanced gadgets, programming applications, and information workers to chat with one another, and they’re the fundamental spine of such countless administrations we presently depend on.Digging more profound, a simple method to comprehend the meaning of an API is to consider the applications that you utilize each day. In a web associated world, web and versatile applications are intended for people to utilize, while APIs are intended for other computerized frameworks and applications to utilize. Sites and APIs both do exactly the same things, similar to return information, content, pictures, video, and other data. Yet, APIs don’t return every one of the subtleties that are expected to make things search pretty for the natural eye—you just get the crude information and other machine-comprehensible data required in the background to give the assets being conveyed something to do, with almost no help from a human.
What is API integration?
“API integration” is a pretty common Google Search term, and we have good news. The whole reason APIs exist is to support integration. API integration is simply the connection between two (or more) applications, programs, services, or systems, using APIs. Applications use APIs to send and receive data and content between each other. Keep reading for a history of APIs, what they’re used for, examples, and more.
History of APIs
Web APIs got their beginning by putting the “business” in “.com,” fueling trade new companies hoping to change the manner in which we work together on the web. They exploited this new medium to make items and administrations accessible to clients through a solitary site, and as they worked with accomplices, they looked to mechanize a large part of the trade that was fueling the web and included juggernauts like Salesforce, eBay, and Amazon. In 2004, a change in the API scene started to arise as another variety of API suppliers began to spring up, offering approaches to impart data to neighborhood and worldwide informal communities, driven by any semblance of Facebook and Twitter. With a solid beginning in business and social applications, APIs kept on developing as everything moved to the cloud, turned out to be substantially more portable, and gave the establishment to cutting edge gadgets. To get the full scoop on the historical backdrop of APIs, look at this Postman blog entry.
APIs and their uses?
- APIs power desktop applications.
- APIs are behind most web applications.
- APIs make mobile applications possible.
- APIs are the integrations for no code solutions.
- APIs connect devices to the internet.
- APIs define the networks—or the information passed between applications, systems, and devices.
- APIs even connect everyday things like automobiles, doorbells, dishwashers, and wearable devices.
Why should you care about APIs?
Are you wondering why APIs are important? Here’s a quick rundown:
- APIs enable you to get the data you need to complete everyday tasks, whether you’re a business user, a student, or just having fun with an app.
- APIs enable various systems, such as Customer Relationship Management systems, databases, and even school learning management systems, to communicate with one another.
- APIs help different departments, teams, and groups become more agile.
- APIs help businesses, colleges, government agencies, and charities improve their links with other businesses, research institutes, and government agencies.
How do APIs work?
APIs allow programmers, systems, and devices to exchange data and information, allowing them to communicate with one another.
A typical scenario that many people use to think about APIs is that of a customer, a waiter, and a restaurant kitchen: A customer speaks to the waiter and tells the waiter what she needs. The waiter records the order and passes it on to the kitchen. The kitchen prepares the meal, and the waiter brings it back to the customer.
A customer is compared to a person who tells the waiter what she wants. The waiter functions similarly to an API, taking the customer’s order and converting it into simple instructions that the kitchen then uses to execute the order—often by following a series of codes, or input, that the kitchen understands.The kitchen is like a server that does the work of creating the order in the manner the customer wants it, hopefully! When the food is ready, the waiter picks up the order and delivers it to the customer.
Why use APIs? Reasons to use APIs
For Reddit, the availability of the raw data has made it possible for 3rd party developers to release phone apps that display the same data with custom presentation. Many other API’s are built with the intentions to allow 3rd party developers to build interesting applications using company data. Spotify even showcases some such apps on their website. Apps that “consume” the API data are sometimes called API Integrations. For example, a product manager might ask a software engineer to “Write an API integration that consumes the Salesforce API and saves the data into our on-site analytics database.”
Some APIs, like the Reddit and Spotify APIs, are designed to expand the reach of the organization by making their data available to users, and enabling external developers to build products that are in some way reliant on the business, and so keep customers coming back. For example, Spotify featured the “artist explorer” in the hopes that users will find new artists, build new playlists, and therefore continue (or start) using Spotify.
Other APIs, like the Salesforce API, are part of a package that is sold to companies. Businesses that pay for Salesforce services see the existence of an API as an added value, because they can have their own software engineers build integrations that do two things:
- Send data from their in-house software programs (such as a webserver or point of sale system) to Salesforce directly, updating the data “in the cloud”
- Pull data “from the cloud” to their in house software systems (such as a reporting system or internal database)
Because the APIs simply provide data, there are no limits on how a company can then go on to use that data. Furthermore, these programs can be automated to run on a schedule reducing the need for someone to navigate the complex steps of exporting data manually via the Salesforce web interface. As businesses scale up, many find that the initial cost of building such an integration can save employees time and sanity by removing the need to interact regularly with a complex and sometimes frustrating web interface.
The different kinds of APIs
- Open APIs, aka Public APIs, are publicly available to developers and other users with minimal restriction. They may require registration, use of an API Key or OAuth, or maybe completely open. They focus on external users, to access data or services.
- Partner APIs are APIs exposed by/to the strategic business partners. They are not available publicly and need specific entitlement to access them. Like open APIs, partner APIs are the tip of the iceberg because they are the most visible ones and are used to communicate beyond the boundaries of the company. They are usually exposed to a public API developer portal that developers can access in self-service mode. While open APIs are completely open, there is an onboarding process with a specific validation workflow to get access to partner APIs.
- Internal APIs, aka private APIs, are hidden from external users and only exposed by internal systems. Internal APIs are not meant for consumption outside of the company but rather for use across different internal development teams for better productivity and reuse of services. A good governance process comprises exposing them to an internal API developer portal that connects to the internal IAM systems to authenticate and allow users to access the right set of APIs.
- Composite APIs combine multiple data or service APIs. They are built using the API orchestration capabilities of an API creation tool. They allow developers to access several endpoints in one call. Composite APIs are useful, for example, in a microservices architecture pattern where you need information from several services to perform a single task.
- Data APIs provide CRUD access to underlying data sets for various databases or SaaS cloud providers. These APIs are needed to serve some fundamental data coming from SaaS applications, with help from SaaS connectors or internal data stores.
- Internal service APIs consist of exposing internal services, reflecting parts of internal processes, or some complex actions.
- External service APIs are third-party services that can be embedded in the company’s existing services to bring additional value.
- User experience APIs leverage composite APIs to help app developers provide the right experience for each specific device (desktop, mobile, tablet, VPA, IoT).
Types of API Protocols
To leverage these different types of APIs, we must follow certain protocols. A protocol provides defined rules for API calls. It specifies the accepted data types and commands. Let’s look at the major types of protocols for APIs:
- REST: REST (short for Representational State Transfer) is a web services API. REST APIs are a key part of modern web applications, including Netflix, Uber, Amazon, and many others. For an API to be RESTful, it must adhere to the following rules:
- Stateless—A REST API is stateless in nature, Client-Server Architecture
- Client-Server—The client and server should be independent of each other. The changes you make on the server shouldn’t affect the client and vice versa.
- Cache—The client should cache the responses as this improves the user experience by making them faster and more efficient.
- Layered—The API should support a layered architecture, with each layer contributing to a clear hierarchy. Each layer should be loosely coupled and allow for encapsulation.
- SOAP:SOAP (simple object access protocol) is a well-established protocol similar to REST in that it’s a type of Web API. SOAP has been leveraged since the late 1990s. SOAP was the first to standardize the way applications should use network connections to manage services. But SOAP came with strict rules, rigid standards were too heavy and, in some situations, very resource-intensive. Except for existing on-premise scenarios, most developers now prefer developing in REST over SOAP.
- RPC: An RPC is a remote procedural call protocol. They are the oldest and simplest types of APIs. The goal of an RPC was for the client to execute code on a server. XML-RPC used XML to encode its calls, while JSON-RPC used JSON for the encoding. Both are simple protocols. Though similar to REST, there are a few key differences. RPC APIs are very tightly coupled, so this makes it difficult to maintain or update them. To make any changes, a new developer would have to go through various RPCs documentation to understand how one change could affect the other. APIs play a key role in the development of any application. And REST has become the preferred standard for building applications that communicate over the network.
REST fully leverages all the standards that power the World Wide Web and is simpler than traditional SOAP-based web services. Unlike RPC, it allows for a loosely coupled layered architecture to maintain easily or update them.