An insight into API

Are you new to the world of tech especially a software engineer? Web developer? Programming in general? If you are, chances are you are highly likely to come across this term API. This term is widely populated in tutorials, documentation, interview, and other such scenarios. But what is it? What are they used for? Let’s dig into that.

What is API?

API is an Application Programming Interface. That’s it? No. Not leaving you with this only. First of all, all of these tech terms sound a bit mouthful but the easiest way to wrap your heads around them is, to break them down. Application is the programs/ apps we use regularly, even Facebook is an application. Programming interface is an interface that people program with. That’s as far as we can make it by breaking them down. Now, the real deal.

API is a software or part of the software or something larger, which connects to other software or part of the software.

Development of APIs

API has gone through steps of change over the years. This goes back as early as the 1940s and generally began to evolve in different shapes and forms with its underlying concept remaining the same and the biggest changes came in the early 2000s when Roy Thomas Fielding, turned the wheel for the web by outlining the REST API and web APIs are primarily used and popular in the modern age.

Variation of APIs

API differs a lot from a regular user interface, which is known as UI or GUI (Graphical User Interface). UI/ GUI is used by the end-user in mind, and the user directly interacts with it. With the API, the user never directly interacts with it but use the service provided by the API which may show some relevant information or functionality to the user.

The only person who will ever directly communicate and work with APIs are the programmers. Programmers are the one who integrates these fragments and makes them as a whole which the eventual end-user uses. In fact, API is constantly being used under the hood in the majority of the application out there you and I regularly use.

APIs can come in varieties based on what they are made for. One example could be, in web development, there are two sectors, a frontend, and a backend which together make up a web application. Front end deals with the user side, logical presentational nature while backend deals with core data and is responsible for delivering those data to the user interface based on logic and other aspects of programming.

Front end side, does not store data, although, it can for a  short period for some purposes, while backend is responsible for storing those data for a long time.