APIs: definition and operation
Facilitating the creation of software applications and their integration, APIs are essential for any developer. These tools provide software or computer programs with a set of protocols and functions through software libraries, web services or computer systems’operation. Let’s go back to the definition of an API and how it works.
C’What is an API in computing ?
API is the acronym forApplication Programming Interface. In French, the meaning of’The API is an application programming interface’applications or application programming interface. It is a IT solution which allows applications to communicate with each other and exchange services or data.
An API provides the necessary elements to solve a problem without revealing the implementation details. This technological component allows the user to developers to use a program without having to worry about its operation. As an illustration, a developer does not have to know the details of creating an operating system.
It is enough that he is aware of the availability of this function to be able to use it.
An API can be confused with a software infrastructure (framework) since both allow to simplify the task of the developers. However, the frameworks refers to the tools at the base of the application’an application. They can be considered as the application skeleton, while the APIs constitute the external party.
What is it used for ?
The meaning of’API reflects its use. This tool serves as aintermediary between two independent computer systems, allowing them to interact without the need for human intervention. It ensures the’interoperability of an information system that is open to others.
An API allows to simplify the development of applications by making the functionality or data of existing applications available. Thanks to this tool, an application linked to another one can also continue to work if a version change occurs.
In a company, an API helps to streamlining of daily procedures thanks to an optimized data exchange. Communication with customers and suppliers is also improved.
When it makes possible the domain and certificate management SSL, the application programming interface is called DNS API. In this case, it gives the possibility to’automate the configuration of different services related to a domain such as the Internet’web hosting, email registration, etc. In order to better understand, it is wise to find out what is going on in the market’is it’a DNS ?
When to use an API ?
Practically all applications that exist are based on APIs. As an example, instead of spending time and resources designing a payment processing system, it is possible touse an API to create an application provided for this purpose. This way, the application developer can work faster.
The use of an API will also prevent them from developing features that have already been invented.
An API is used when creating web or mobile applications. For example, it is possible to use this tool to develop instant messaging applications . This one can also be used when designing websites. Moreover, it offers a significant performance gain and wider possibilities of evolution.
What are the different types of’APIS ?
There are four main types of application programming interfaces:
- The Open APIs. Also known as public or external APIs, they can be used by any developer. In concrete terms, their security measures have been softened to make it easier to access data. Some open APIs may nevertheless require a key. In any case, it is for companies an excellent means to streamline exchanges with customers or suppliers. For developers, open APIs ensure the rapid implementation of software or application components;
- The Partner APIs. Like the first type of APIs, these are aimed at facilitate communication between a company and external parties. On the other hand, their access is conditioned by a license or specific rights. In this way, data is only made available to defined partners. In practice, access to them is only possible for registered servers;
- The Internal APIs. Also known as private APIs, they can only be used in the context of a payment system only used by the company for which they were designed. In other words, their access is limited to the internal actors of an organization whose identity is systematically verified before being granted an entry. These APIs also make it possible to improve the internal communication. Open APIs are important because they give companies the ability to share data between their different departments in a streamlined way;
- The Composite APIs. Generally combining several programming interfaces, they can support several integration systems. Because of this feature, composite APIs are particularly useful when the execution of an operation requires the use of several services.
Why is an API important ?
Its importance can be seen through the meaning of’API. As already mentioned above, This tool simplifies the developer’s job and saves time. In detail, since the background work is already done, the developer no longer has to write a large amount of code.
On the other hand, APIs play a role in the data security. Open APIs are very important for developers because they control access to hardware resources and software functions that are not necessarily allowed to be used by an application. For example, if a mobile application developer wants to access the camera of an Android or iOS device through the camera API, the user will receive a permission request.
If he refuses it, access to the camera by the mobile application will be impossible.
With APIs, data can only be used by the companies can on their side easily integrate services such as online payment or authentication into their site without the need to code. As their needs continue to multiply in a context of increased digitalization, these tools represent a real asset.