What is API?
The term API stands for Application Programming Interfaces. It is a group of definitions and protocols which helps the integration and development of software for applications allowing the communication between two software applications via a group of rules.
This group of rules defines how two software systems interact and communicate with each other to fulfill the required functionalities using requests and responses, similar to contracts, where this contract represents agreements between the interested parties.
It may be easier to explain in terms of client and server:
- The client would be the application sending the request (P1), and the server would be the application sending the response (P2). So, if P1 sends a request with a specific format, P2 responds with the said format.
- Let’s say you have a travel app; this app needs information from a software system that contains traveling data such as popular destinations, prices, and the possibility of reservations; this is a travel database. In this case, the travel app is the client, and the travel database is the server.
To this point, we have discussed some characteristics of an API, but what are the benefits of using APIs, and why is it a relevant topic?
First, they adhere to a standard such as REST and HTTP, and since APIs are more standardized, it’s easier to monitor. Additionally, they have solid data governance.
In the travel app, the phone data is never completely exposed to the server, and vice-versa. Instead, they communicate by exchanging small data packages containing just the necessary.
Furthermore, API allows developers to integrate new components into the application and helps to digitalize companies by providing a simple way to connect the infrastructure among cloud-native.
At last, a public API provides a distinctive value by allowing the company to share data with customers and external clients.
Returning to the travel app by providing clients with a public API, we allow third parties to make reservations in our app and consult our data. The app also uses a third-party public API of, let’s say, a hotel to make direct reservations using the API.
Why are API´s valuable tool?
It can assist business and data management by collecting data in a reasonable amount of time and effort. By using an API we can bring digitalization to companies and provide an instrument for business growth by making data accessible from different platforms or making systems, in general, more convenient.