Get to know an Application Programming Interface, a.k.a. API
This word is universal and it has been used in different areas. But here, we will see its meaning related to software, apps (web and mobile), and the web. So, find out what is an API and why is it useful to understand this concept to develop Software Products.
First of all: what is the meaning of API?
API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface. And basically, it is a mechanism used to connect two pieces of software to each other so that they can exchange data or messages in a standard format. Like XML or JSON. It is composed of a set of methods of communication that are defined in many components. And they would be used for the web, network, hardware, operating system, database system, and software libraries. This is an instrument that allows you to expand, make alliances, open up to talent, innovate, automate processes, and even to look for more income.
How an API is made up
An API can have data structures, routines, object classes or variables for the use of the interface. Also, if you are thinking about building an app you can not forget the documentation of it because this is necessary for it to be used effectively. Thanks to an API, a set of functions and procedures are provided for other software to use it as an abstraction layer and as a space for access and exchange of information. There are three common ways or techniques to build an API nowadays. Using RPC, REST, and GRAPHQL.
RCP or RPC is the acronym of Remote Procedure Call. A simple way form of API interaction. With this technology, you execute a block of code in another server and when you implement it on HTTP or AMQP it becomes a web API. It has a method and some arguments. “RPC is just a bunch of functions, but in the context of an HTTP API, that entails putting the method in the URL and the arguments in the query string or body.”
Source: Blog. apis you wont hate
The concrete implementations of RCP are: XML-RPC JSON-RPC Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)
In the second place, there is REST (Representational State Transfer). This is a network that permits a client-server relationship where the information on the server side is available from representations of data in simple formats as JSON or XML. REST is stateless: not persisting sessions between requests. Its responses should declare the cacheability of the API. If you’re using HTTP you should utilize HTTP features instead of inventing conventions.
In the last place, it is GRAPHQL. It is essentially RPC, but also it has the better from the REST-HTTP community. It was developed by the Facebook team and from its invention, this ecosystem for developing an API has grown very much. With this technology, you ask for specific resources and specific fields to get a return that data in the response. Also, it has a big and complete ecosystem. They have documentation and many resources that will help you. For example, you want to know how to make a call. The best of GraphQL is that “it defaults to providing the very smallest response from an API, as you are requesting only the specific bits of data that you want, which minimizes the Content Download portion of the HTTP request.”
Source: Blog. apis you wont hate
What types of APIs you may have
1. Web services APIs:
They are app development interfaces with which information is exchanged between a web service and an application. E information on the server side are available
Normally this exchange takes place through HTTP or HTTPS requests.
“As well as the HTTP of the web service, contain information of all kinds in the metadata of both the header and the message, normally in the two most common formats: XML and JSON.”
Source: bbva open 4u
Some of the types of web services APIs are SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), XML-RPC, JSON-RPC, and the most common, REST.
2. Library-based APIs:
These libraries are consumed for the app or software that you are developing.
3. Class-based APIs:
This kind of API connect data through classes.
Java is the best example of that. The Java development interface is organized into packages and each of these packages contains a set of related classes, and at the same time, these classes bring everything needed to perform all kinds of functions inside these applications.
4. APIs for operating systems:
Operating systems and software programming always are interacting. And a way that they do it is through APIs.
An example of that is Windows. This operating system use APIs to communicate with many programs which have functioned as data storage, messaging, graphics and multimedia, error diagnosis, etc. If you click in the link above you will have access to these APIs for Windows.
The best software development is that all of us can learn together. Try to build your API and share your experience with our community. But if you can not do it easily, don´t worry, communicate with us, and we can help you to build your API using Python Flask or the alternative that suits you best according to your needs. Don’t forget, we will make the second part of this post, wait for it.