How Application Programming Interface (API) works

By | 2018-03-26T12:40:02+00:00 March 14th, 2018|Development|

How Application Programming Interface (API) works?

 

With all the tech out today, it can be intimidating and hard to keep up with each and every new facet that’s released on what seems like a daily basis. But let’s try to broaden your mind with info on application programming interface (API) and what it’s all about. Maybe you’ve already heard of an API and have been told how valuable it was and the impact it can have on a business and, with a glass-eyed stare and awkward toothy grin, you nodded as if you knew what that person was talking about. To put it in layman’s terms, an API is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. In short, an API is a messenger that delivers your request to the provider that you’re requesting it from, while then delivering the response back to you. Fancy, huh?

Now, don’t think the robots are taking over. An API defines functionalities that are independent of their respective implementations, which allows those implementations and definitions to vary without taking each other out. So putting a well-built API in place makes it easier to develop a program by providing the building blocks.

When developers are creating code, they don’t often start from scratch, but instead, utilize API’s to expedite the process.

Developers nowadays are able to be much more productive since the olden times when they had to write a lot of code from scratch. APIs keep them from having to start from point A every time they write a new program. Instead, they can focus on the unique proposition of their applications while outsourcing all of the commodity functionality to APIs.

If you’re still not getting it and giving me that glassy-eyed, awkward grin, try this example on for size: Imagine a waiter in a fine restaurant (Italian cuisine, Spanish cuisine, Chinese cuisine; you pick what you’re in the mood for). You’re the diner and you’re sitting at the table, reading the menu of choices to order from, and the kitchen is the provider who will fulfill your order. Still with me? Okay, now you need a messenger to communicate your order to the kitchen and then to deliver your food back to your table. It can’t be the chef because he’s slaving away in the kitchen, cooking delightful delicacies for all to savor.  You need someone (or something) to connect the hungry customers order to the chef who can prepare their food. That’s where the waiter — or the API —  comes into play.

So now you get it! The waiter takes the order, delivers it to the kitchen where the chef knows what to prepare. The waiter then delivers the food (or the response) back to you, the diner. And that’s essentially the same process of how an API works.

 

About the Author:

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Todd, the owner of T.G. Digital Solutions, has over 25 years’ experience in database and software development, and over 20 years’ experience in website development. He has worked on teams of 100+ developers down to just himself on Projects, was a Database Administrator at Intel & DevelopOnline, and has owned and ran his own software and web development business since 2002.