But what really is API?

API, absolutely not the IPA’s beers (unless there really is the API beer) that Petr Gazarov, a software developer with more than 3600 followers on medium, mentioned in his blog, is an acronym of Application Programming Interface. Hmm, you might have heard about it but what it really is?

When we type the URL, for example, facebook.com, we send the request to Facebook’s remote server, which is a remotely located computer, and that computer, which is a server, processes the request through an API to display the webpage. From that instance, Gazarov defined that “An API isn’t the same as the remote server–rather it is the part of the server that receives, requires and sends responses.”

One example is the Object–Oriented Design, code is organized into objects, which will later be used to interact with one another. From my own experience, the first time I was aware of using the API was in the Data Structure class, the Oracle API provides specifications for the JVM Platform, Standard Edition, and the instructions on how to use those methods are documented. I was working with Stack in Java and I want to look at the object at the top of this stack without removing it, I will use peek() instead of pop() as instructed from the API documentation to request relevant operations. The Stack is the object designed by Oracle and the peek() function is a public method in that object, and a set of public methods and properties is an API. Web Server API is similar, the idea is to receive requests and responses.

The difference is the format of the request and response, in my case, it was simply just a function with a small operation, in other cases, different APIs provide flexible responses with tons of uses. One thing I learned from his blog is that to render the whole web page, the browser expects a response in HTML containing presentational code, Google Calendar’s API call would return the JSON formatted data.

Another experience that I’ve got when I was working with my friend in a web project is creating the backend of this project, which is developing the GET, POST, PUT, DELETE functions to respond to his request for his frontend application. The role of this API is to return the data, formatted in JSON, which is stored in Firebase database to the person working in the frontend in order to design the graphical user interface.

In short, Gazarov concluded” any piece of software that can be distinctly separated from its environment, can be an “A” in API, and will probably also have some sort of API”. Since this blog consolidates my understanding about API, I hope you will also find it useful.

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