The What, Why, and How of APIs
APIs act like the interpreter helping different independent services interact and interpret the data shared with each other.
For over a decade, Application Programming Interface or APIs have been used to exchange data between multiple platforms. From social media to news and media sites, most websites depend on APIs to provide a dynamic and real-time digital experience. APIs have made its way into almost every device and service available today and it continues to spur innovations in every field of technology.
There are multiple programming languages used to build and run applications in the online world. And just like every other language, there is always the need for an interpreter when trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you. This is where APIs come into play, APIs act like the interpreter helping different independent services interact and interpret the data shared with each other.
The buzz around APIs continues to grow and the implementation possibilities are endless –
- Data aggregators: APIs help gather data from multiple sources, for example: applications that provides stock market data or news feeds that are updated regularly.
- Mobile Applications: Smartphones have made its way into every demography and is no longer a luxury. With almost everyone owning a smartphone, the number of mobile applications available to users today has exploded. To become a major player in the market, it has become necessary to provide APIs that integrates seamlessly with every kind of device over any type of network.
- Social Media: APIs are the driving force behind the popularity of some of the biggest Social Media applications – from Facebook to Instagram. It has made it possible for different application to share data including media files easily.
- Data Analysis: With the amount of data uploaded, stored and shared over the internet today, it is impossible to sift through everything and make sense of what is involved. This has led to several new applications that aim to connect multiple platforms and provide a single dashboard view of the data. These applications make it easy to understand and analyze trends over time.
- IOT: The Internet of Things is the future of technology – a fully interconnected environment where multiple devices “talk” and share data with each other using APIs. Here is an interesting article detailing the architecture of IoT devices and how APIs play a major role in enabling IoT.
APIs are designed to offer flexibility and ease of integration so that developers can build complex application without worrying about usability. Web based APIs work over HTTP and is built using SOAP or REST protocols. HTTP requests/responses are used to exchange data; the data is formatted based on the API design so that it can be interpreted by the client application.
In short, APIs define the entire process of initiating a connection between the server and the client, formatting the data in a pre-defined structure and then exchanging the data between the server and client.
Learn about API Observability