What is an API: the complex in simple words

What is an API: the complex in simple words

All Internet users interact with APIs without even knowing it. For example, when sending pictures or photos from one messenger to another, when registering on a new site through your Google account, etc. There are now hundreds of APIs for finance, social messaging, payments, e-commerce, bitcoin, and a host of other categories covering everything we do with apps, as well as what we program apps for other apps. For some, the world of APIs still feels a bit like the Wild West. For others, it became an important and necessary necessity. If it's Greek to you, now let's try to explain what API is.

How does an api work?

The abbreviation API stands for Application Programming Interface and means a set of functions that allows applications to access data and interact with external software components, operating systems or microservices.

Let's look at an example. You decide to create a website and imagine the design: in the right corner, links to Instagram, LinkedIn and other social networks, so that people can find you more easily, it would also be appropriate to place a map at the bottom, so that there are no problems getting to your salon / store / office. And then you decide to add the possibility of authorization via mail or Facebook for convenience. You will not create new maps, if there is an opportunity to use the familiar Google Maps? But where should the updated information from other applications and sites come from?

For all this to work, you need an API. The main task of the API is to establish interaction between certain utilities without thinking about how they are arranged or how they process data.

An API is a part of the server that performs two important tasks: receiving requests and sending responses. In simple words, an API acts as an intermediary that allows an application to access data and even some capabilities of the application. And that's all? The answer is no. API has a number of advantages for every business.

What does api mean in business:

  1. Safety. If you have data or functionality that requires special protection, you can, using the API, take it out into a separate application. This reduces the probability of its incorrect use by third-party programs.

  2. Saving time. If your employees spend all day transferring and collecting data that can be obtained through other applications or sites, your revenue is reduced. API integration and process automation will save you time and resources, which is most influential for business.

  3. Unification and simplification. Since you don't need to reinvent the wheel, you can simply use ready-made applications and sites, which will greatly speed up your business processes.

What are the types of APIs?

According to the type of access, APIs are divided into:

Public APIs. Developers have created an API for their application and are making it available to the world. Such APIs are often sold to generate additional income. For example, this is what Google does with the Google Maps API.

Private or internal APIs. Developers hide these APIs from the world. For example, private APIs are used by companies to connect their applications.

Partner APIs. Custom APIs that company developers write for partners and share only with them. For example, an API for connecting the company's database and a third-party CRM system or email service.

Complex APIs. Consist of multiple APIs to perform many sequential actions. Complex APIs are usually created because they are faster than one big API.


API integration is critical to your business strategy. In this regard, developers and decision-makers face two main challenges: to choose an API that is suitable for the specific business needs of the company, and to understand how to use it effectively.

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