What is an API and what is it for

What is an API and what is it for

Author: HostZealot Team
2 min.

Few ordinary "mortals" know what an API is and what it is for, while almost all people on the planet use them. Well, of those who use modern gadgets, of course. And all this is due to the fact that the API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of tools and functions that ensure the interaction of various programs with each other. And even within one application, its individual parts can "communicate" with each other through certain APIs – this is often found in complex, multi-level software with a wide range of different functions.

What you will learn about in this article?

In fact, the programming interface includes three key components:

  1. An operation that the program can perform.
  2. Data coming to the input.
  3. The data that appears in the output.

Thus, it is obvious that any API is a set of specific functions. What these functions are and what they are used for is another question. They can be used for login, registration, and authorization. There are also software interfaces for reporting, and for making payments, or simply for libraries to interact with the rest of the application components. There can be a lot of functions, and every year their number grows along with the development of the entire global IT sphere.

How the API works

The program interface performs a connecting function between programs or individual parts of applications. This is a kind of bridge over which data is exchanged. The program interface of the application can be public or private. In the first case, the API is used to exchange data with third–party programs, and in the second - to communicate internal applications, for example, within the same corporate infrastructure.

APIs are used to speed up the release of new software products, they greatly simplify their debugging and optimization, since there are ready-made solutions for almost all standard functions. When using such components, development becomes more predictable and secure, while setting up links between different services, and applications are simplified at times. In the end, this saves a lot of money, since developing an API from scratch is much more expensive than using ready-made solutions.

what is an api and what is it for

API examples in everyday life

There is no need to go far for examples – even the simplest calendar on Android OS works through a software interface since it has a built-in function of connecting to third-party applications from the Play Market. Synchronization allows the user to receive notifications about all important events in a couple of clicks. At the same time, developers save themselves from having to develop their own calendar – it is enough to realize the possibility of integrating a standard Android application from Google.

The second example is airline tickets. Using some applications, you can track real-time information about current flights, their cost, and dates. This information is collected directly from airline websites thanks to the API.

And the third API example from everyday life is a banal authorization button. Many sites that you visit for the first time in your life have a built-in ability to log in via a Google, Facebook, or Twitter account in a couple of clicks. This is also implemented using a software interface, greatly simplifying the life of both visitors and site owners.

In general, APIs are used everywhere, and we use them every day without even realizing it. Almost all modern applications, websites, and programs work using one or another Application Programming Interface. This is the end of our material, thank you for your attention!

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