Application Programming Interface (API): A Primer2017-12-13T08:21:08+00:00

Application Programming Interface (API)

Do you remember a long time ago when kids would play with tin-can telephones? They looked cool, but they didn’t really get any information across. Computers transmit tons of information, and they do it quickly. They send things back and forth but, without a system or an easy way to transmit long groups of information, the whole thing can grind to a halt. Our team here at Scepter Marketing, a local online services agency, is here to explain one of these systems: an Application Programming Interface (API).

An Application Programming Interface (API) allows your devices to talk to each other and change the flow of that information. One website can make its information available as an API, and then other websites can take it, making that old telephone game obsolete. Instead of point-to-point, the info stays in one place and the connections come to it.

What is an API?

API stands for Application Programming Interface. An API is something that allows your product or service to talk to another product or service. They are used to integrate websites and systems together, like Amazon, eBay, and Twitter. So when you visit Facebook, your browser sees Facebook’s server as an API.

Companies can sell and share their API data. For example, a weather site could sell access to its weather data API and other sites could list it. That’s how APIs can also help improve your traffic and sales. If you have an online store and give free access to your product portfolio, your API, other online companies can include your product portfolio on their own website. This brings much more traffic to your site since it’s viewable in multiple places. Potentially even bigger websites than your own that get more traffic. Some of their traffic finds their way to you.

What Would I Use an API for?

Companies use APIs as a sort of door to allow other programs to interact with it. However, the developer doesn’t have to share the code. It’s a safe way to connect to a program without being able to read the entire program and know everything it’s doing. An API can make things work together without needing all of them to know how all of them work. Like when you play videos on your phone off of your television screen. An API will help you spend less time compiling the data and more on concentrating on app development and the front-end.

What Are Some Real World API Applications?

Amazon is one of the companies who released their API. With their API released, other website developers could have easy access to Amazon’s product information. Using this API, a website can post links to Amazon products, with prices that stay updated, and a “Buy now” option.

APIs are the invisible threads that link our web. If you’ve ever registered for a game by using your Facebook login, you did that through an API.