APIs (Applications Programming Interfaces) have become very important in web development in the past few years. They are not only dictating ways through which developers build applications but also how they integrate web services into the applications easily.
They have increased efficiency for developers, reduced development cost, and the time taken during development. On the other end, users are demanding applications that meet their specific needs.
Furthermore, these user requirements keep on changing meaning that developers are supposed to come up with applications that can easily adapt to the demands. This is where APIs come into play. They have made it possible for developers to keep building applications that meet all these requirements.
For instance, a developer working on a weather forecasting application or one that wants to add weather functionality to an existing application can easily do that. Instead of coding from scratch, they can easily implement one of these free weather APIs. At the end of it all, they will have saved time, cost and come up with an application that meets all their requirements.
Types of APIs
APIs can be categorized into different types. The categories can be based on a number of things, among them;
- Data and Service
Based on ownership, there are four types of APIs. These include;
These are also known as open APIs and are available publicly to users with little to no restriction. Most of them might require things like the use of OAuth or API keys, and registration before they can be used. Their main objective is to make access to services and data easy for external users.
They are also known as internal APIs. External users do not have access to these APIs unless they (APIs) are exposed to them by internal systems. They are mostly developed by companies for use in the company across different apartments that implement them. Their main objective is to improve productivity and reuse services in the company. There are also free APIs that you can use for your business, you can get a zip code api free from different programming websites.
These are APIs developed by one company but are available for use by the company’s business partners. These APIs require one to have specific authorization for use and are not publicly available.
These are APIs that combine both service and data APIs. With these APIs, developers can use a single call to get access to numerous endpoints. They use these APIs when they need to use several services for a single task.
Based on protocols, APIs are classified into;
REST (Representational State Transfer)
These are the most popular types of APIs when it comes to web development. RESTful APIs are defined by their characteristics, which include being stateless, having a uniform interface, client-server being independent, and having a layered architecture.
SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol)
This is another popular type of APIs common with web development. Even though it is one of the oldest types of APIs, it standardized how applications manage services using network connections. However, web developers prefer using RESTful APIs to SOAP APIs.
RPC (Remote Procedure Call)
These are the simplest and oldest types of APIs. They made it possible for clients to access a server and execute code. They use XML and JSON when encoding calls.
Based on data and service, APIs are classified into;
These are APIs that developers use to gain access to sets of data from cloud providers and other databases. They are essential in managing data coming from could applications.
User Experience APIs
These APIs are used when developers need to offer their application users a good user experience on different devices. For instance, you are able to access an application on a mobile device and a desktop without any issues because of these APIs.
Internal and External Service APIs
External Service APIs are used by companies when adding value to existing applications while Internal Service APIs are developed and used internally to enhance internal processes and services.
APIs have penetrated every aspect of web development. They have provided amazing tools and resources that help developers to create and maintain websites and web applications. It is, therefore, right to say that they play a very crucial role in the life of every web developer today.