What is API? Types of API & their applications

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Ever wondered what an API is? or what is an API key? What is API’s function? In this article of Terminal Stack we will explain all the functions and features of API. So let’s get started.

Feeling lazy to read, here’s a short video for you:

What is an API?

API stands for Application Programming interface. It is a platform or a software which allows websites or applications to interact with each other and share the data according to their necessity.

Let us understand it with an example,

You must have seen that many food delivery applications/websites have a feature which shows the location of the delivery man and also enables us to track our food. Do they have their own satellites and complex systems for this?

The answer is no. They take the data from google maps and display the information in their application. Now the question is, if this is true then the website should be able to get a lot of important data from google maps? 

They can’t because the API limits the data access to the website. This is the main function of the API that is to provide the external data and hide valuable data from the other programmers and developers.

The need for API

Now you know the meaning of API, let us study the importance and some applications of APIs.

1] Travel booking websites: There are many third party travel booking websites such as makemytrip,expedia etc,that sell the same tickets. What if two websites book the same ticket for two different passengers. Situations like these do not emerge because all the third party websites check the availability of the seats from the data accessible from the root website through API.`

2]Login: When we install a new application on mobile or when we browse a website we have a login option from where we can login through different sources like facebook, google, twitter. These applications use these sources to verify your identity. The data transfer of your identity occurs through API.

3]Payments: While paying through a website we see many options from where we can pay such as credit card, paytm , upi etc. API plays an important role in these transactions.

These were some daily life applications we observe, So next time when you observe any of these do not forget to thank the big heads which created the concept of API !!

API key

This key is a string of different letters, alphabets and dashes. When a project or a website needs information by another website, the provider website gives a unique key to the user website. The main purpose of this key is to authenticate the data transfer and to verify the user website. It also helps to track the process.

This method is not that good as it seems to be, because once an API key is generated it is given to the user website and if it gets stolen or something, other people can also access the information. In such cases the only way is to generate a new key and dismantle the previous one.

Types of API

Public API: These can be used by anyone to get the information. The websites make this information accessible to everyone. They do so to expand their business reach by providing free data to the needy ones.

Partner APIs: These APIs can be used only by the chosen ones or the ones who have a deal with the providers. This works when the provider wants to share the information to only selective consumers.

Internal APIs: As the name suggests these are  developed for the internal use by websites, so that they can get the information wherever needed.

Composite APIs: Multiple APIs are merged together to perform an interdependent operation , such complex systems are called composite APIs.

Thank you for reading this article !!

If you have any comments or queries regarding this article please let us know in the comment section.

you might also like: https://terminalstack.com/5th-generation-technology-5g/

References:

https://nordicapis.com/5-examples-of-apis-we-use-in-our-everyday-lives/

https://searchapparchitecture.techtarget.com/tip/What-are-the-types-of-APIs-and-their-differences

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