Beginners Guide To APIs

APIs are a set of functions and procedures that allow for the creation of applications that access data and features of other applications, services or operating system.

What exactly is an API?

An application program interface (API) is a toolset that programmers can use to help them create software. To put it simply, an API specifies how software components should interact.

To describe the concept in further detail, you need to comprehend the basics. Let’s start with my favorite analogy of a restaurant menu. When you go to a restaurant to eat, you choose from the selection on the menu. From this point, you convey your choices to the waiter. He/she then takes your choices to the chef, they prepare your meal and it’s returned to you for a nice meal. From this point, you may ask yourself, do you know what the chef used in your fish or steak? How was it prepared? This back and forth analogy serves as a starting point for this explanation.

Why? Because with an API, you really don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes at the restaurant. All you really know is that you gave your food order, it was processed and out came your dinner on a nice plate.

Real-world example

A real-world example is buying tickets online. You go to the a ticket site, you enter your event, name and credit card information, and lo and behold, you print out your tickets. But what’s going on between entering your information to receiving your ticket? APIs, that’s what!

They are collaborating behind the scenes with other applications. How is this possible you ask? This type of integration is called “seamless” because you never have a clue when a software role is passed from one application to another.

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