What is an API & How it works?

what is an api

You might have wonder how easily two different websites can share the data or how can you book flight tickets from amazon or Paytm kinds of platforms.

This happens with help of an API. You would know something about API but here I am going to tell you all about API in deep down detail.

The term API stands for application Programmable interface, and it’s a way for different programs to work together in various ways. 

 It is a mechanism that allows the interaction between various applications. The main advantage of APIs is that developers can add particular functionality to their applications eliminating the need to write all of the code by themselves. 

APIs work as a messenger, delivering a request to other apps and coming back with an answer. Usage of APIs allows developers to get access to the data from the other applications and software and use it for their purposes.

Explanation with a simple non-IT-related example.

When you go to a restaurant and order some food you interact with the waiter, you can order food and drink, ask questions about the menu, request and pay the bill, and much more.

In this example, The waiter is shielding you from all the complicated stuff that happens behind the scenes.

waiter in restaurant

You don’t have to worry about the stove, oven, dishes, managing stock, or pouring drinks. He is the interface between you and all the services that a restaurant offers. Giving your way to interact with the restaurant while still shielding you from the complexity behind the scenes.

In this scenario, the waiter is acting as the API of the restaurant, and through this example, you intuitively understand why they are useful.

Another example would be the weather app on your phone. 

Google or Apple have not gone out and put temperature sensors all over the world instead, these apps use the API of a third party to retrieve weather predictions. Apple for instance is using the API of the weather channel.

Another example is buying movie tickets online. You go to the movie site; you enter your movie, name, and credit card information, and lo-and-behold, you print out your tickets.

But what’s going on between entering your information to receiving your ticket? APIs, that’s what! They are collaborating behind the scenes with other applications.

How is this possible you ask? This type of integration is called “seamless” because you never have a clue when a software role is passed from one application to another.

Why do we need API?

Imagine the following scenario: You (as in, your application, or your client, say a web browser or mobile app) want to access another app’s data or functionality.

For example, perhaps you want to access all Twitter tweets that mention the #jimmychoo hashtag.

You could email Twitter and ask for a spreadsheet of all these tweets. But then you’d have to find a way to import that spreadsheet into your application.

Even if you stored them in a database, as we have been, the data would become outdated very quickly. It would be impossible to keep it up to date, and simpler for Twitter to just provide you a way to query their application to get that data so that you can view or use it in your application. It stays up to date automatically that way.

So, the API provides access to data, so this data can be included in different applications.

What are APIs used for?

What are APIs used for Lots and lots and lots of things, including:

  1. APIs power desktop applications.
  2. These are behind most web applications.
  3. It makes mobile applications possible.
  4. These are the integrations for no-code solutions.
  5. These APIs connect devices to the internet.
  6. APIs define the networks—or the information passed between applications, systems, and devices.
  7. APIs even connect everyday things like automobiles, doorbells, dishwashers, and wearable devices.

How do APIs work?

APIs work by sharing data and information between applications, systems, and devices—making it possible for these things to talk with each other.

Sometimes the easiest way to think about APIs is to think about a metaphor, and a common scenario that a lot of folks use is that of the customer, a waiter, and a restaurant kitchen: A customer talks to the waiter and tells the waiter what she wants. The waiter takes down the order and communicates it to the kitchen.

The kitchen does their work, creating the food, and then the waiter delivers the order back to the customer.

In this metaphor, a customer is like a user, who tells the waiter what she wants. The waiter is like an API, receiving the customer’s order and translating the order into easy-to-follow instructions that the kitchen then uses to fulfill that order—often following a specific set of codes, or input, that the kitchen easily recognizes.

The kitchen is like a server that does the work of creating the order in the manner the customer wants it, hopefully! When the food is ready, the waiter picks up the order and delivers it to the customer.

Without the API integration with shopping for iPhone, it is impossible to retrieve and delete and synchronize the data from the e-store that was built on them. 

A well-developed API allows the system to communicate with one another quickly and reliably without any loss of data.

There are various types of API 

  1. SOAP
  2. XML
  3. JASON  
  4. REST

Let’s explore the REST API

REST is a software architectural style and is used in Web Services development

REST API uses HTTP requests to GET, PUT, POST & DELETE data

GET – is used to retrieve a resource 

PUT – for its updating 

POST – for the resource creation 

DELETE – for its removal

Several shopping platforms have a REST API

If you want to access the information regarding your customer’s e-store products, orders, customers, shipments, taxes, etc. you need to develop a shopping platform API integration.

However, because most shopping platforms have their APIs, it becomes quite tedious to integrate with multiple appearances as in a short time

When it comes to integration, you have multiple options

The first one is doing the integration separately and manually with each platform. This option takes a lot of time, costs a lot of money, and has a high failure rate. Even if you focus on the two platforms, such as Magneto and Shopify, you will have to spend thousands of dollars in months until you get it to develop the integration.

Moreover, you’ll have to invest hundreds of dollars in integration maintenance and upgrade

Know More About benefits of API Click Here