What is the Application Program Interface (API) and where it's used?

Jul 21, 2019

Hello developers and Students. Are you learning to program then you would have definitely come across the term called API? What are they and how do they work and where they get used? Let us dig in.

Yes from your school days you might have heard about API as it’s used to communicate between different application but no one might have explained how it works.

How the API works?

Api Development

Let’s go with a real-time example. Consider movie tickets booking website like BookMyShow. Today you are about to book a ticket in PVR Cinemas at your favorite location. When you book through BookMyShow and after your tickets confirmed you will come to know that the same seat is not available to book in other websites or even directly at cinema hall seconds after you make your booking. How they are actually doing this? How booking gets updated immediately everywhere. Here API is responsible for everything. Let’s break down the complete scenario

Your cinema provider like PVR will have its own database of tickets available. They have all the primary access to do everything with the availability of those tickets. Because the server is managed in-house and it is connected with the booking software in the reservation area in the cinema hall and also it is directed connected with their primary website too. The developers of the website and software will also create this API for other applications to access the bookings in their theatre so that it can be used to book tickets also from other websites. They will follow a small structure in how the data gets accessed and processed so that it will be easy for both the theatre and the booking team to communicate without any issue. Of course, there will be some authentication will be there with some kind of security tokens in the ways others cannot use the API. Because once the API is created it is created in the way that its server is accessible by the outside world opening to vulnerability.

How the data is communicated between applications with API?

It’s very simple to answer that. Web-based applications communicate with HTTP response while the desktop application with software ports or similar to something like that.

API is actually data communication so they set requests to the server in terms of array or object and in the same way they get the return in terms of array or objects. The most used format is JSON (Javascript Object Notations). This became a universal format with the popularity of Javascript.

What languages are these API built?

API is like a service which can be provided by anyone. So it is easy to say API works irrespective to language. So this also helps developers to create their own API without jumping to any other language for only this part.

Areas where API is most used?

API is now everywhere. If you are a blogger and if you currently write the post in WordPress with the WordPress mobile app like what I was doing while creating this post then you have to note this also works with API. Your website acts as the API server and your mobile App uses it to update post to your website. Yes, WordPress comes with API built into it. Other major areas where they use are

  • Booking Systems like redbus, BookMyShow, etc
  • Apps and Website communication
  • Sometimes even the website frontend with its own backend communicates with API when you use any frontend frameworks like Vue or React
  • Very important area. Payment Gateways like PayPal, Stripe, PayU and more

Is there any job openings like API developer?

The answer is no. As I have said earlier API can be built by any language and by any developer. So we can consider that as a project and you might get into a company at the position of API developer but you cannot mention that you are an API developer without learning any language. So don’t try it.

If you have any more questions about API then let me know in comments. You can always raise questions about programming in our forum. Any other form of support then message us at our Facebook page TechGuru. Thank you.

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