What is API: Definitions, Specifications, Types, Documentation?

What is API

If you ever read news or blogs related to technology then you must have seen a contraction of Application program interface (API).

As we humans interact with each other through language (spoken or written), Interaction with computers and websites requires various components like screen, various graphical elements and a keyboard, and a mouse.

Similarly, Software or apps interact via machine-readable interfaces (API)

What is API?

An API is an interface between various computer programs intended to simplify the implementation and maintenance of various software.

An API may be for software library, Database system and web-based system.

So basically API’S describes how software components should interact.

Therefore we can say that a good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the required material.

A programmer then puts all the material together 

 For example: When you use an application on your device and when you open application it connects to the internet and sends data to the server and then the server receives the data and interprets it. then it sends back the necessary data and then the application on your device receives the data and interprets it and shows you in a readable way. 

Some of the Popular API’s used currently

  1. Twitter API
  2. Google Maps API
  3. YouTube API
  4. Facebook API
  5. Amazon Product Advertising API


So basically the goal of API specifications is to standardize the process of data exchange between different servers.

In this case, standardization means the ability of diverse systems, running on different os or using different technologies to communicate without any barrier.

A remote procedure call, service object access protocol are some of the specifications of API

Why API’s Are Important

When there was no API then the area of software was limited.

Also, software’s were taking more time in development as any function which is not prepared as a part of a few programming languages could need more time to develop.

How does API Work

API communicates with a group of regulations which specifies how various apps, computer and software’s can communicate.

Simply we can say that API work as a middle man to get in touch with two given systems to complete the pre-determined undertaking.

For example: when you log in your Gmail id in your computer then the API. The system then makes a call to API to communicate to servers and recover your mail id and credentials.

Type of API

What is API
  1. Private API
  2. Public API
  3. Partner API
  4. Composite API

Private API:

Also known as private API, these API’s are developed within an organization for improving solutions and services.

The organization can use these API to perform various functions or to build new programs.

Even if API is available to the public its interface remains available only for the publisher.

This privacy strategy provides more control on API

Public API:

These are API with no restrictions they are available for any third-party developer.

This type of API allows to increase brand value and receiving additional income when properly executed.

Partner API:

These type of API are not available for the general public as in the case with private API.

These are openly promoted but are available for use only for those who signed an agreement with the publisher.

A Company which grants access to API for partners can generate additional income at the same can also monitor how the partners are using the API.  

Composite API:

These type of API combines different data and service API.

These type of API are used to improve the performance of listeners and to speed up the process of execution


Speaking about how to use API, we can say that no matter how good it is or how many opportunities for developing or extending the services of software.

It is of no use if its developer does not understand how to use the API.

Therefore well-written documents must be provided to the developer that explains how to use the API in an easy comprehend manner.

The developer is happy with the API it will make a developer eager to recommend it to other peers.

Following are some of the contents that must be included in documents

  1. A quick start guide
  2. Explanation of every API request
  3. Tutorials
  4. Samples of code of popular programming languages
  5. Authentication information

Benefits of API

  1. One of the best benefits of API is that it  helps in saving time when developing 
  2. API introduces you to new technologies together with API you can teach yourself the hottest image recognition and natural language processing procedures
  3. It is more efficient to use API as compared to execute similar function independently  

Final Word

If we look at the bigger picture, we can say that role of API is considerably greater.

If we look at it not only from a software development point of view but also from a business point of view.

These machine-readable interfaces for data exchange are like delivery services that work under one hood and enable much needed technological connectivity.

More than 60% of participants in the current state of API integration 2018 report agreed that API integration is critical for their business strategy.

The study also suggested that over 50% of all business would partner via API

In this regard, the decision-makers and developers have two main tasks

  • first is to select the API that works according to their requirements.
  • second is to understand how to effectively use it.

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