What is API?
Application Programming Interface (API) is the set of instructions used to create software applications. API defines the software components in such a way that it dictates how they must interact and also controls the operations, inputs, and outputs.
It allows two applications to interact with each other. The APIs do not have a direct connection with the users. They are more like links between the applications that will help in easing the user experience.
In your day to day life, you use applications like WhatsApp and Facebook to send message or photos instantly, that means you are using an API.
Who provides application programming interface?
The application programming interface is provided by the software companies with a purpose that other companies can design and link to its software.
For example, if you are paying bills online, you key in your credit card details. The details are then forwarded to another application that will check the credibility of your details. Once the check is complete then the information is linked to further processing.
Application service provider is made up of 3 basic parts.
- Customer: Who makes request
- Server: The device that answers for the request
- Mediator: Application or device that sends the request to the server and gets the answer from it.
Benefits of application programming interface
- Saves time: It links several similar useful applications thus saving the overall time consumed for a process.
- Improves cooperation: Many enterprises use more than 1200 cloud applications.API helps users to integrate these platforms and apps. Through this integration, enterprises automate workflows and improve workplace cooperation.
- Improves service: APIs help you to simplify the implementation of new applications, business models, and digital products. Businesses can stay on the edge and can become more efficient and fast in terms of delivering their products it services to their prospective clients.
- Provides easier adaptation: Systems in a company need to be changed over time, and API helps in changing the system fast. It offers flexible service provision.
- Saves money: Saves a lot of money for the firms as they don’t have to shell out money for various applications.
- Provides Easier innovation: API allows companies to make connections with new business partners and also helps the companies to offer new services to their existing clients.
- Adds security: API creates an added layer of protection between your data and a server
- Provides more scope: It allows developers to create a personalized service for new customers. An application layer can be used to distribute information and introduce services to new customers.
Every system has its own disadvantages. Following are the disadvantages of API
- While generating API, you need to consume more time. Hence it is a time-consuming process
- It requires a fixed scale
- You should have programming knowledge while generating API
- Its cost of maintenance is very high
- There will be a chance of crash while testing API
- It can be easily hacked by hackers
Few examples for Application programming interface
Hotel booking or Travel booking: On these sites, you can check the cheapest option for your convenient date and convenient destination. These sites show the cheapest options through API.
It provides the latest information about the availability of rooms or sets from hotels and airlines. API helps you to save your time while checking for available flights or accommodation.
Google Maps: Google map is one of the best common examples of an API. It lets the users use the maps on required web pages.
It allows the user to track the traveling routes or traveling vehicles like your kid’s school bus. It provides the user with the flexibility to use it on mobile phones as well as desktops.
Common Logins: It is one of the common examples of API. Here API allows people to log in to different websites with help of Facebook, Twitter, Google log-in details.
Because of this useful feature of API, users can get the information from the website without setting a new profile for that website. This helps to save the time of the user.
Payment Process: You go to the shop and buy some fruits and vegetables and pay the bill through apps like Paytm.
Here operations of the e-commerce website take place through an API so that you can pay the money for the products online without revealing the information to others.
Types of Application programming interface
Following are the four main types of Application programming interface
- Open APIs: They are also called Public APIs because they are open source. They are available to the users with minimum restrictions. Users can access these with the HTTP protocol.
- Partner APIs: These are technically the same as Open APIs with restricted access.
- Internal APIs: these are also called private APIs. They are hidden from external users. They are available to use within the company.
- Composite APIs: they allow developers to access several endpoints in one call. These APIs help to reduce server load and improve application performance.
Application Programming Interface (API) protocols types
We know that protocols are a set of predetermined rules provided to users. Application programming interface (API) protocols identify commands and accepted data types. API protocol makes information exchange easier.
- XML-RCP: This is an old protocol, very simple, lightweight, and uses less bandwidth. It depends on the particular format of XML to transfer data.
- JSON-RCP: It is the same as XML-RCP, both use remote procedure calls (RCP). The only difference is this protocol uses JSON format instead of XML format to transfer data.
- REST(Representational State Transfer): Unlike other protocols, it does not contain standard formats. It uses web API architecture principles.
- SOAP(Simple Object Access Protocol): This protocol is built with XML. Users can send and receive data through HTTP and SMTP. Even though the software and apps are written in different languages and running in different environments, this protocol makes the sharing of information easy.
Difference between API and Web service
Both the application programming interface and Web service are almost similar, then also there are slit differences are there between them. Let us have a look at that.
- Every web services are APIs, but all APIs are not web services
- API supports both XML and JSON, whereas web service supports only XML
- API uses all styles of communications but web service uses only three styles of communications like XML-RPC, SOAP, and REST
- Web service gives supports only for the HTTP protocol, whereas application programming interface gives supports for HTTP/ HTTPS protocol, request & response headers of URL
Get more definitions about application programming interface (API) and other ERP related terms here.