What is an API exactly and what are its functions

API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface. Thanks to these rules and specifications, the programs you use can communicate with each other.

It is a term present for years in the technological world, but many people do not know what it means. We are talking about API, an acronym that corresponds to Application Programming Interface and that allows applications and programs that everyone uses to intercommunicate with each other. 

Simply put, the API concept has a formal character and corresponds to the computer functions and protocols with which developers can create specific programs for databases, operating systems, online platforms or social networks. It is the interface that makes it easy for different programs to communicate.

Functions of API and examples of use

Its use depends on the permissions that the API owner gives to third-party developers. You don’t see them, but they are the internal wiring that connects with code and rules for an app to work. Logging into an online game from your Facebook account or having a collaborative work app send you notifications to your PC is possible thanks to an API. 

What is an API, Application Programming Interface

To understand this, imagine that APIs are like a toolkit, some packed with them and some with just one function. Its uses are unlimited, since they are used by public institutions, private companies, local organizations and a long etcetera. 

Its main function is to save time and money, lightening the work done by developers. For example, the API of a payment service for an ecommerce or the API of Twitter or Instagram can be used for a new application to connect to the publications of these social platforms.

These interfaces can be open or private. Even those that are not open source allow adding a specific functionality without giving details of how the process is carried out internally.

The API can be used to communicate with a (WinAPI) operating system, database (DBMS) or communications protocols (Jabber / XMPP). Also social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr or Linkedin), CMS like WordPress or services like those of the Google suite. APIs have made social media marketing more profitable, simple and traceable. 

The API used for all kinds of purposes: social, financial and online payments, ecommerce, enterprise, management or location. Only from 2006 to 2015 the public API rose from 299 to 13,146, as revealed by this infographic of BBVA. Its growth has been exponential since then. 

Using an API is like outsourcing a function, whether it is starting a purchase process, accessing a catalog stock, identifying yourself on a social platform, liking a news item or buying a movie ticket through a website. 

Integrating YouTube videos on a website, creating a chatbot for a shopping center, using Google Maps in a transport app or sharing flights and hotels in a reservation app is also possible thanks to this technology. Companies that work with information in the cloud also use APIs. In this case, they source from the APIs of Amazon, Microsoft, Google and other companies of this nature.

Of course, sometimes developers are hindered by setting a user limit, requesting payment for a license from a certain number. 

In Technoeager | The future of social media and use of Internet

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