What is an API?
Posted by: Earth Networks
What is an API?
API stands for Application Program Interface. It is a set of routines, protocols and tools for building software applications.
We know it sounds complicated, so let’s break this down.
Basically, “Application” can stand for any piece of software that can be distinctively separated from its environment. It can mean a piece of software with a distinct function, but it can also mean an entire server, app or just a small part of an app.
The next letter, “P”, stands for “Programming.” This refers to how engineers create all the software that makes both our personal and professional lives so much easier.
The last letter stands for “Interface.” An Interface is a common boundary shared by two applications or programs. Interfaces allow both to communicate with one another.
In simplest terms, an API is essentially a way for programmers to communicate with an application. It’s the middle man that helps programmers request and receive information from applications.
Why Use APIs
You’ve probably heard of companies packaging APIs as products. For example, we offer a weather data API called Sferic API. Our API and others like ours, offer businesses a set of dedicated URLs that return pure data responses. This raw data helps you drive engagement by connecting with customers and streamlining operations.
Do you use an application that tells you what the current traffic looks like or what the current temperature is? Most tools like these rely on open APIs to run and pull the most accurate data. When it comes to business, data sets like weather information and site search information can help increase business continuity and sales.
What Types Exist?
We mentioned weather and site search data sets, but there are plenty of other types of APIs your business can use to increase productivity, business continuity and overall profitability. It’s important to focus on data that will help your business. If you are an amusement park, it makes sense to integrate weather data into your apps and websites to enhance emergency operations measures. On the other hand, if you are a school you would probably benefit more from a physical warning of sound or lights for approaching severe weather.
There are also different types you can build. Most professionals recommend the following four: Production, mock, development and fuzzing. These terms can sound confusing, but Eric Shull does a great job at breaking them down in this article.