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Application Programming Interface (API)

Application Programming Interface (API)

By: Aiza Gill

What’s An Application Programming Interface?

Companies can open their application programming interface (or API) to third-party developers, business partners, as well as internal departments. This allows products and services to communicate and use each other’s functionality and data through a documented interface. Developers don’t need to understand how an API works. They simply need the interface to connect with other products or services. API usage has exploded over the past decade to the point that APIs are required for many of today’s most popular web apps. If you want to test your API then API Tester is the perfect mobile application for testing your API, with everything you need. Therefore, using API Tester to test APIs is a great idea.

API Tester is a powerful, free web-based utility for making HTTP & HTTPS requests, exchanging data via websockets, and debugging API calls. You will have the same experience across all of your devices. This is a multi-platform app that runs on iOS, macOS, Android, and Windows.

How Does It Work?

An API is a set of defined rules that describe how applications or computers communicate with each other. APIs act as intermediary layers that process data transfer between different systems.

Here’s how an API works.

  • An application calls the API to retrieve information. This is also known as a Request. The request is sent from the client application to the web server using the API’s Uniform Resource Identifier. (URI). It includes a request verb and headers and sometimes a request body.
  • The API calls the external program or webserver after receiving a valid request.
  • The API receives the response from the server with the requested information.
  • The API transfers data to the original requesting application.

Although data transfer may vary depending on which web service is being used, the process of requests and responses all takes place through an API. While a user interface was designed to be used by humans, APIs can only be used by computers or applications.

APIs are security-by-design because they act as a middleman and facilitate the abstraction of functionality between two systems. The API endpoint separates the consuming application from that providing the service. API calls often include authorization credentials to lower the risk of attacks against the server. An API gateway can also limit access to minimize security threats. Additional security layers are also provided by HTTP headers, cookies, and query string parameters during data exchange.

Consider, for example, an API provided by a payment processor service. Customers can use the front end to enter their card details in order to create an eCommerce store. The API creates a token for the transaction that is unique to the payment processor and passes it to the server. This provides greater security against hacking threats.

Why APIs Are Needed

An application programming interface can be used to make the process easier, whether you are managing existing tools or creating new ones. These are some of the most important benefits of APIs:

  • Better collaboration

An average enterprise uses nearly 1,200 cloud apps (link outside of IBM), many which are not connected. APIs allow integration, allowing these apps and platforms to seamlessly communicate with each other. This integration allows companies to automate workflows and enhance workplace collaboration. Many enterprises without APIs would be disconnected and suffer from informational silos, which can lead to poor productivity and lower performance.

  • Easier innovation

APIs allow companies to connect with new business partners, offer services to existing markets, and ultimately access new markets that can drive digital transformation. Stripe was founded as an API using seven lines of code. Since then, the company has partnered with some of the largest enterprises in the world and diversified to offer corporate cards and loans. It was recently valued at USD36 billion (the link is not located outside of IBM).

What are APIS and how to build API? - Learn Steps

  • Data monetization

Many companies offer APIs free of charge, at least initially. This allows them to build a community of developers and establish relationships with potential business partners. If the API gives access to valuable digital assets, it can be monetized by selling access (also known as the API economy). AccuWeather launched its self-service portal for developers to sell a variety of API packages. It took only 10 months to attract 24,000 developers and 11,000 API keys, while also building a vibrant community.

  • Added security

As mentioned above, APIs add an additional layer of protection between your data and your server. Developers have the option to further enhance API security with tokens, signatures, and Transport Layer Security encryption (TLS). They can also implement API gateways to manage traffic and authenticate traffic and practice API management.

Types And Uses Of APIs

Most application programming interfaces today are web APIs, which allow an application to expose its data and functionality via the internet. These are the main types of web APIs:

  • Open APIs– provide open-source application programming interfaces that you can access using the HTTP protocol. They are also known as public APIs. These API endpoints include request and response formats, and they can be accessed with the HTTP protocol.
  • Partner APIs– allow you to access application programming interfaces that are available to strategic business partners. These APIs are typically accessible by developers in self-service mode via a public API developer portal. To access APIs from partner companies, developers will still need to go through an onboarding process.
  • Internal APIs– allow users to program applications in a way that is hidden from the outside world. These APIs are not available to outside users and are intended to increase productivity and communication between different development teams.
  • Combination APIs– combine multiple services or data APIs. These services enable developers to access multiple endpoints with one call. Composite APIs are useful for microservices architecture, where a single task might require information from multiple sources.
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