What’s An Application Programming Interface (API)? | C2C Community

What’s An Application Programming Interface (API)?

Categories: Applications and DevOps API Management Developer Tools
What’s An Application Programming Interface (API)?

Application programming interfaces (APIs) simply connect apps. Think of them as a scalable application interface, with diverse code running on a server where all of that code needs to fit together perfectly for any particular application to work. 

Example: The Uber application comprises various interfaces: one for payment, another for calculating your current location, a third for handling the review you leave at the end of the trip, and so forth. Like a microservice, each API focuses on its aspect and “communicates” with other Uber APIs. When communication is fluid, and all the Uber APIs seamlessly interconnect, the Uber application works.

 

API Design 

The first step in creating an API is to ask yourself:

  • Why do you want to make that particular API - or why do you need it? 

  • What do you want it to accomplish? 

  • What’s your process of execution?

API design is followed by API productization, which is the process of creating the actual API. An effective API is: 

  • Easy to use

  • Easily understood or attractive in its simplicity

  • Clear and concise, with “just enough” data to do its job. 

 

API Management

The larger and more complex your application, the more APIs you’re likely to have (think of microservices). All of these APIs need to be secured, observed, updated, scaled (as the enterprise or application grows), cataloged, and retired when no longer necessary. Some core components of API management are:

  • API gateway, an API management tool that makes it easy for developers to design, develop, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs.

  • API dashboard, a space where you can observe the health and usage of your APIs to troubleshoot issues.

  • API catalog, a library of the relevant APIs for organizing, managing, and sharing these APIs with relevant developers and end-users.

 

API Security

Hackers have a wonderful time with APIs. After all, applications such as Facebook or Tinder, which reveal your deepest confidences, are commonly used and are open to vulnerabilities, like excessive data exposure, incorrectly applied authentication mechanisms, and code injection.

Most APIs are composed of either:

  • SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) - A highly structured message protocol that uses built-in protocols, or Web Services Security, to shield APIs. Organizations with highly sensitive data prefer SOAP.

  • REST (Representational State Transfer) - A more straightforward approach that uses HTTP/S and Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption for security.

 

Common API Terms

  • Web API security - transfer of data through APIs that are connected to the Internet

  • API Keys - requests made to an API which require a specific key for authentication

  • GraphQL - a popular query language used for designing and developing effective APIs

  • JSON - the language that the applications use to “talk” to one another

 

Wrap-Up 

APIs)are simply applications that communicate with one another to answer your commands and give you access to required data. When it comes to Google, examples include Search, Gmail, Translate, or Google Maps. Google Cloud APIs help you create, deploy, and manage APIs on the Cloud through your favorite API language.

 

Do you use APIs? Which are your favorites? Reach out and let us know!

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