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Claudio Dumont
Claudio Dumont

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Web API’s — A Brief Introduction

Study Motivation…

I have worked as a front-end developer for some time, adding up the years, for about 10 years. In my career, I have focused on specific things and ended up putting other things to the side. The theory of how the internet works is one of these things put to the side.

Obviously, throughout all these years, I’ve worked and used a lot of APIs but if anyone asks me to explain what it is, what types they may have, how these things work or whatever it might be about theory of APIs. Yes, it’s a gap, it can even be considered a failure. On the other hand, it’s never too late to learn new things.

This article was founded by my studies. Some of these things I’ve learned, others I’ve noticed, while others I still need to deepen my knowledge about them. But for now, I’m at a good start and I know more than I did before, so it has definitely been worth it. If you read this, I hope it’s useful to you and it can help out with all that you might need!

What is an API?

The literal significant for the abbreviation of API is “Application Programming Interface”. Whereas, an API is much more than this. For a deeper understanding, we need to focus on the Interface part.
Taking that into consideration, we can define APIs as being the interface program that shows other programs, humans (developers) and Web APIs to the world through the internet.

APIs are developed to function and work with other programs. Therefore, needed to be developed considering they are used and read by other programs and humans, after all, we are developers, human being who write the programs, at least not until SKYNET conquers the world, things will be like that =].

Nowadays, APIs make it possible for other uncountable softwares to work/function. From those you use to order a pizza, even to those who manage and make it possible to do transitions with your credit card, for example. With each day, more APIs have become the key of many large companies’ successes, such as Amazon, Stripe and Google. Therefore, knowing your behaviour and basic principles, it is extremely necessary, especially if you work with this in your daily job.

Why we need an API?

APIs are born from the necessity of data providers who solve a specific problem, they share these solutions to other developers so that they don’t need to solve the same problems. Google Maps is a very good example, if you need to use a map in your site, you don’t need to develop a map from scratch. You need to use Google Maps’ API and embed it to your site. It’s not necessary to worry about how to develop this map. Your only concern would be your business and leave the problems with the map to Google Maps’ API.

In reality what actually happens here is the development or creation of a product or a feature, using data and interactions provided by a specialized platform, therefore, the biggest advantage provided by an API is the fact that it grants the development of products and businesses in a fast and unique way by saving developers a lot of work and time. This is because they don’t need to start from base one all the time.

OK, I understood, but what makes an API a good one?

An API is good for you when it helps in a simple, direct and fast way, to solve your problems. Would that mean it’s a relative question? yes and no =), in general terms, a good API needs some important aspects.

A good API should offer Clarity (of purpose, design and context), flexibility (the ability to adapt in different ways of use), to be powerful (it needs to be able to solve the problem as a whole), hackbility (to have the ability to quickly offer interactions and experimentations) and last but not least important, documentation.

In short, a good API should be useful, scalable and have good performance. A very good documentation and good resources are necessary for development allow you to solve what you need develop your application. With all certainty, API’s are a fundamental part of the development for modern web applications and there are a lot of ways to develop this applications using APIs. Therefore, it’s necessary to know a little about these APIs so that you are able to make a good choice to have success in developing your application.

I hope this article is as helpful to you as its research was to me! I also better understand API’s and how these things work!
Keep Calm and Keep Coding =].

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