API – Definition

API is the acronym that stands for Application Programming Interface. An API is basically a software intermediary, that provides instructions to differentiate applications, in order for them to interact and communicate bilaterally.

For example, each time when you’re using an app like Facebook or check the weather on your mobile phone, you are using an API.

API development makes applications ready for integration and makes it easier for systems to break out of data silos, by providing entities with the code they need, in order to access some functionalities of the API’s source application.

Popular APIs

Some of the most popular Web APIs are those related to social media. Social media APIs have seen a massive increase in usage lately, which can be directly linked to the success of the companies Twitter and Facebook.

Top 10 most popular Web APIs:

  • Google Maps
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Amazon
  • Twilio
  • Facebook
  • eBay
  • Last.fm
  • Google Search

The value of APIs for businesses

Nowadays, businesses are seeking valuable new opportunities for data sources that were previously isolated. Taking this into account, APIs are the tools that enable companies to use these data, by encouraging innovative developers to create new business opportunities and improve existing products, systems and operations.

Also, companies need data-rich systems and the capacity to have interconnectivity with partners.  API integrations between applications offer extra value that is crucial to providing solutions that will add value to the IT structure as a whole.

Informed companies can make better choices, often leading to increased efficiency, simplified workflows, and creativity. The data also results in companies finding opportunities to reduce costs and increase income streams.

For the matter, APIs have become the basis of digital transformation of today. They help companies to grow their businesses more quickly than ever before and they enable faster innovation by reducing the barriers to change.

Which API is best for you?

Developing the correct API to match a particular IT purpose is critical. The API may be necessary to enable a proprietary software to be more compatible in a niche market, or to build an organization’s stronger IT climate.

Below are some of the most popular formats of messaging used for application integration:

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation)

This protocol is similar to XML-RPC but instead of using XML format to transfer data, it uses JSON. This one is a great format for managing client-side scripting and is usually a quicker counterpoint to other alternatives like XML. Even though JSON may not be as popular or commonly used in many contexts as other options, it supports many features that make it a powerful choice for adoption.

REST (Representational State Transfer)

This one is not a protocol like the other web services. Instead, it is a set of architectural principles. The REST service needs to have some features, including simple interfaces, which are easily identified resources within the request and manipulation of resources using the interface.

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol)

This is a method for transferring data using XML as a format. The main function is to specify the interaction framework and methods. It also uses WSDL (Web Services Definition Language) in a machine-readable document to publish a definition of its interface.

Does API Integration make tasks easier?

APIs will reduce the administrative burden significantly. By acting as a mechanism to bring all three together, it simplifies the management, security and overall processes.

Businesses generally have multiple tasks that operate on different platforms, that need to be merged at some point. There are certain tools that claim to do a good job as an all-in-one solution, but these are commonly Jacks of all trades and masters of none. Multiple companies are now developing their own best-fit API frameworks to connect their resources and systems in order to simplify processes and workflows.

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