Programming

Programming Sections #1 API development

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API development

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Programming Sections #1 API development

Application Programming Interfaces or APIs simplify software development and innovation by enabling applications to exchange data and functionality quickly and securely.

Application Programming Interfaces
How an (Application Programming Interfaces) API works?

An application programming interface, or API, enables companies to open their applications’ data and functionality to external third-party developers, business partners, and internal departments. This allows services and products to communicate and leverage each other’s data and functionality through a documented interface.

Developers don’t need to know how an API is implemented; they use the interface to communicate with other products and services. API use has surged over the past decade to the degree that many of the most popular web applications today would not be possible without APIs.


How Do Application Programming Interfaces Work?
How Do Application Programming Interfaces Work?

An API is a set of defined rules that explain how computers or applications communicate with one another. APIs sit between an application and the web server, acting as an intermediary layer that processes data transfer between systems.

Here’s How API Work

  1. A client application initiates an API call to retrieve information—a request. This request is processed from an application to the web server via the API’s Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) and includes a request verb, headers, and, sometimes, a request body.
  2. After receiving a valid request, the API calls the external program or web server.
  3. The server responds to the API with the requested information.
  4. The API transfers the data to the initial request application.

While the data transfer will differ depending on the web service being used, this process of requests and responses all happens through an API. Whereas a user interface is designed for humans, APIs are designed for use by a computer or application.

APIs offer security by design because their position as middlemen facilitates the abstraction of functionality between two systems --- the API endpoint decouples the consuming application from the infrastructure providing the service. The API calls usually include authorization credentials to reduce the risk of attacks on the server. An API gateway can limit access to minimize security threats. Also, during the exchange, HTTP headers, cookies, or query string parameters provide additional security layers to the data.

For example, consider an API offered by a payment processing service. Customers can enter their card details on the front end of an application for an e-commerce store. The payment processor does not require access to the user’s bank account; the API creates a unique token for this transaction and includes it in the API call to the server. This ensures a higher level of security against potential hacking threats.


Why Do We Need APIs?
Why Do We Need APIs?

Whether managing existing tools or designing new ones, you can use an application programming interface to simplify the process. Some of the main benefits of APIs include the following:

  1. Improving Collaboration: The average enterprise uses almost 1,200 cloud applications, many disconnected. APIs enable integration so that these platforms and apps can seamlessly communicate.

Through this integration, companies can automate workflows and improve workplace collaboration. Without APIs, many enterprises would lack connectivity and suffer from informational silos that compromise productivity and performance.

  1. More accessible Innovation: APIs offer flexibility, allowing companies to connect with new business partners and introduce new services to their existing market. Ultimately, accessing new markets can generate massive returns and drive digital transformation.
  2. Data Monetization: Many companies offer APIs for free, at least initially, to build an audience of developers around their brand and forge relationships with potential business partners. However, if the API grants access to valuable digital assets, you can monetize it by selling access (this is referred to as the API economy).
  3. Added Security: As noted above, APIs create an extra layer of protection between your data and the server. Developers can strengthen API security by using tokens, signatures, and TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption by implementing API gateways to manage and authenticate traffic and practicing effective API management.


Common API Examples
Common API Examples

As APIs allow companies to open up access to their resources while maintaining security and control, they have become a valuable aspect of modern business. Here are some common examples of APIs (application programming interfaces) you may encounter:

Universal Logins: A famous API example is the function that enables people to log in to websites by using their Facebook, Twitter, or Google profile login details.

This convenient feature allows any website to leverage an API from one of the most popular services to quickly authenticate the user, saving them the time and hassle of setting up a new profile for every website service or new membership.

Third-Party Payment Processing: The now-ubiquitous “Pay with PayPal” function on e-commerce websites works through an API. This allows people to pay for products online without exposing sensitive data or granting access to unauthorized individuals.

Travel Booking Comparisons: Travel booking sites aggregate thousands of flights, showcasing the cheapest options for every date and destination. This service is made possible through APIs that provide application users access to the latest information about availability from hotels and airlines.

With an autonomous exchange of data and requests, APIs dramatically reduce the time and effort to check for available flights or accommodation.

Google Maps: One of the most common examples of a good API is the Google Maps service. In addition to the core APIs that display static or interactive maps, the app utilizes other APIs and features to provide users with directions or points of interest.

Through geolocation and multiple data layers, you can communicate with the Maps API when plotting travel routes or tracking items on the move, such as a delivery vehicle.

Twitter: Each Tweet contains descriptive core attributes, including an author, a unique ID, a message, a timestamp when it was posted, and geolocation metadata. Twitter makes public Tweets and replies available to developers and allows developers to post Tweets via the company’s API.


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