6 Types of APIs: Everything You Need to Know About APIs
Same as humans communicating with each other with the help of word of mouth, gestures, or letters. Other living beings have their way of communication as well. But has it ever crossed your mind that how does an app get to communicate?
Mobile applications tend to communicate with each other with the help of intermediate software. For instance, Application Programming Interface or API in brief, Every time you vibe over songs or binge watch some content on Netflix or others, you are always using types of API.
This article will discuss what an API is, different types of APIs, how it impacts our lives, and many more. Let us discuss further.
Table of Content
- What is an API?
- How Does the API work?
- Various Types of APIs
- Importance of API
- API Business Models
What is an API?
API, known as Application Programming Interface, is a set of functions that enables applications to easily access data and communicate with external software components, operating systems and microservices. In simple words, an API tends to send a request to the system, and the further system responds to a user.
A top mobile app development company majorly uses APIs to help to make things much and easier and speed up the development of other applications and systems. For instance, if you are developing your software and looking forward to integrating payment processing or face recognition, using an API would be one of the best ways to do it. All you require to do is connect your software with another one. There are types of APIs presented with API’s documentation which is a handbook for developers to execute with requested functionalities.
If you use an API, you don’t need to deal with any source code or understand how it works. Sounds simple right? Let’s deep dive to understand how API makes it possible. If you require further assistance regarding API, consult with a top mobile app development company to guide you better.
How Does the API Work?
API is the middleman between the mobile app and the server. Like you tell your app to do something, with the help of API, it will communicate further with the webserver and will command it with what is to be done. These actions are referred to as requests. Furthermore, listening to the request server will send a response that is to be delivered by the middleman to your app.
Let us understand it better using an example. You walk into a restaurant or cafe, reserve your table with a view that a waiter will come to place your order. Here in this situation, the waiter is your middleman. The cook cannot take the order directly, as he is occupied with several orders to prepare in the kitchen. Therefore you place a request to the waiter, and further, it sends it to the kitchen, then users receive a response. Here in this situation, it is received by bringing order to the table. Enjoy your meal.
Even for that matter, the API is an abstraction of the web server, as the app has no idea what is being prepared in the “kitchen”. It is only acknowledged with the result. The end users have insights that if he orders pastries from the menu, he will get pastries. Depending on what they are developed to do or their release policy, there are several APIs. Further, let us get insights into different types of APIs.
Various Types of APIs
As you better understand what an API means and what it does, it’s time to look at the different APIs available in the market. While from the substance, all of them perform quite similar functions that might be different from each other in some ways.
1. REST APIs
REST APIs are popularly also known as RESTful APIs. It is referred to as Representational State Transfer. REST APIs have lately grown in popularity as part of web series. REST APIs were mainly designed for the developers to get an opportunity to perform requests and receive responses through HTTP functions. There are mainly four different types of HTTP commands that REST is based on. These commands include POST, PUT, GET, and DELETE. While you open your social media networking sites and look for the latest and trending memes of the day, that app uses REST API.
2. SOAP APIs
SOAP API is referred to as Simple Object Access Protocol as REST is an architectural style, whereas SOAP is a protocol defined by the standard. SOAP is entirely dependent on XML based systems and their programming. Thus it tends to have larger and expensive data. SOAP APIs cater to one with the utmost level of security. A common use of SOAP applications is while interacting with a financial institution. Read more on SOAP vs. REST API.
3. RPC APIs
RPC is referred to as a Remote Procedure Call. RPC APIs are one of the primary APIs, as they are mainly designed to perform a block of code on distinct servers. While RPC is used over HTTP, it can become a Web API.
4. Internal/Private APIs
Internal/Private APIs are only made available within an organization. At the same time, app developers who work for the company can use these private APIs. In contrast, third-party developers cannot use them, As these are not developed in publicly accessible software development kits as they are entirely unknown to the public. Most of the analysts believe that most APIs are internal or private.
5. Partner APIs
Partner APIs are made for sharing externally with business partners of your organization. Majorly partner APIs develop deep integration, share sensitive information or functionality, or attain things that organizations could not achieve individually. Like for instance, traffic apps, Waze uses APIs to exchange data with local government agencies and other partners about accidents, road closures, and other factors that would majorly impact traffic.
While on the other hand, partner APIs are quite open and more available than private APIs, they tend to have higher control over access and documentation. Until you work with one of the businesses involved, you might not have any idea about the existence of an API and how to request access for the same.
6. Open/Public APIs
Public APIs are mainly used for Facebook and Google’s social login solutions as they are easily available for third-party developers to use. Effortless access to such public APIs could be as simple as registering on the provider’s website. It includes completion of the application and approval process, further paying for the subscription fee. It tends to vary between the providers, and further would depend on your intended purpose and volume of the activity.
All these types of APIs provide users with easy access to an organization’s resources, but how they tend to get their access depends on their integrated integration and target users.
Importance of APIs
Considering modern-day B2B usage, a mobile app programming interface can be crucial to incorporate data flows with partner systems and customers. The APIs can even add increased flexibility to some traditional types of robust exchange like managed file transfer and EDI. Trading documents are a part of dynamic business transactions like PO (purchase orders) like for instance, points to a progression of the B2B e-commerce landscape.
Starting from providing numerous industries by enhancing the speed, consistency, agility and accuracy. Some companies tend to recognize the potential of expanding and integrating application data flows through APIs. It enables smoother business process integration across applications in conjunction with various other types of B2B technology.
API development is integral for operating a data-driven business nowadays. This enables business users and IT to influence software and applications to boost productivity and enhance the bottom line. From social collaboration tools to more creative approaches to customer outreach, taking benefits of APIs can prove to have dividends within the organization.
API Business Models
Companies mostly use API to make money, as API business models enable firms to allocate their business objectives. In a free API, an organization or a company only gives its API access without any charge. The major reason behind it is that developers make use of their API is that it allows them to boost the reach of their firm and enables the firm to reach out to more users. One more model of API is known as ” developer pays”. In such API business models, all the data provided through the API turns valuable as app developers have to pay to access it.
PayPal can be explained as one of the best API examples for this business model, where the company pays some amount to the developer for using its APIs. Mostly it comes as a part of the revenue share of our affiliate program. On the other hand, developers use API to get paid for each lead they deliver to the website through the API. Amazon.com can be explained as one of the best examples as the developers pay a certain commission for every sale they tend to generate.
This article has mentioned various types of APIs and provided you with insights into how it works, their business models, and how important they stand in IT. The increasing number of apps and software products for personal and corporate use requires communication and resource exchange methods. API development tends to satisfy that need and is a key element in helping the expansion of the technology.
Mention Simple Components for a Great API?
Here are 3 simple components for a great API:
- Multiple Formats: Distinct applications speak distinct languages, comprising JSON, XML, and CSV.
- Documentation: It is a no-brainer. Without API documentation, no one would be able to use the API. API Documentation is the beginning point toward making it DevOps friendly.
- Community: Developers search for a helping hand from other developers. The majority of them have widely adopted APIs and are backed by robust developer communities.
What would be the advantages of using API?
These are some of the notable benefits of using API:
- Increased speed to market
- A deeper focus on your strengths
- Freedom to outsource the complexity
- Better user experiences
What should all factors be considered before choosing your API?
Following factors should be kept in mind while considering your options:
- Feature relevance
- Documentation and interface
- Usage limitations
- Acceptable use policy (AUP)
- Language support