Application programming interface is more commonly known as API. Most developers start to work with this kind of interface at quite an early stage since it makes it possible for two applications to communicate.
There are lots of open APIs on the web that can be used by anyone who wishes to connect to that specific software. However, there are also APIs that are only released for internal use within the company that has released them. If you look around, you will notice that many websites and apps are using APIs in order to pull data, post text and images or somehow connect one website with another.
Why API then? It all comes down to offering a better user experience. Plenty of companies have realized that they have a great chance of expanding their reach by offering an API. That makes it possible for third parties to develop new apps that communicate with the application behind the interface. It also makes it easier for users, since they can log in with one account and still reach a lot of websites. Moreover, it increases the usability of websites and applications since it’s possible to pull and present much larger amounts of data, compared to if the company has to create and publish all material themselves.
“You would probably be surprised if you knew how commonly used these interfaces are. It doesn’t matter if you visit a website in order to buy movie tickets, or if you browse an auction app in order to buy some second-hand gadgets. APIs will be used to make all the magic happen.”
Now that you know what an API is, and why developers tend to use it a lot, you’re probably interested in finding out how it works. It can vary a little bit since different APIs require a different type of authentication. However, the steps are usually the same, so in order to work with it, you need to understand the following.
When you have found the interface that you want to work with, it’s time to sign up and create a key. When calling an API, you will need a URL, but most often, you will also need a key to work with. The documentation will tell you which endpoints you can work with, and how to implement the key. Usually, you can also find some examples to help show you how a sample fetch can be made.
The next step is to understand the actions that an API can handle. You can use either GET, POST, DELETE or PULL. Which one to go for is decided by what you want to achieve. It is very likely that you will have to use more than one.
The easiest way to review what kind of response to expect is to open the API URL in a browser and start reviewing the JSON. That way, you have a chance to figure out which parts you should use in your fetch. With that figured out, it’s time for you to start writing your code.
Working with APIs doesn’t have to be hard. You could start by creating a Postman account, where you can write some basic code and try to fetch from an API of your choice. Try to find an open API that interests you and give it a try. There’s a big chance you will find it very fun.