API, which is also known as Application Programming Interface, is a sequence of program instructions that perform a specific task for building application software. API allows communication and data transfer between various software components from different devices. API can be used in an operating system, web-based system, database system, software library, and computer hardware. A good API makes it easier in developing a computer program since API assists the developer by providing building blocks which are going to be put together by the programmer. Similar with Graphical User Interface (GUI) which helps the user in using an application, API makes it easier for programmers to use certain technologies in building an application.
In order to assist the programmer in creating an application, API has the principle of information hiding. Through API, developers can access the objects or actions that they need from other systems without understanding the underlying implementation and process in obtaining that data. This principle enables the concept of modular programming in building an application. With API, the developers are provided with the tools that they would expect to have. By hiding the implementation of the process, API helps reduce the cognitive loads on the programmer.
Here is an example of the use of API. With an API, an application can check the current weather of a city by requesting the data from a website. The website’s API then will reply the request with a data about the weather condition (usually in the format of JSON). Furthermore, even though the display of the website changes, the structure of the request and response will remain the same since it has been documented by the website through the API. In comparison, without an API, an application can only find the current weather condition of a city by accessing the website that provides that data and read throughout the content of the webpage to obtain it. Furthermore, the application usually relies on the fact that the website’s display will never change since the application will not be able to parse the content of the webpage once its look has changed. In addition, these are several popular APIs that are mostly used by the developer in building an application:
- Google Maps API
- YouTube APIs
Google’s APIs lets developers integrate YouTube videos and functionality into websites or applications. YouTube APIs include the YouTube Analytics API, YouTube Data API, YouTube Live Streaming API, YouTube Player APIs and others.
- Flickr API
The Flickr API is used by developers to access the Flick photo sharing community data. The Flickr API consists of a set of callable methods, and some API endpoints.
- Twitter APIs
Twitter offers two APIs. The REST API allows developers to access core Twitter data and the Search API provides methods for developers to interact with Twitter Search and trends data.
In conclusion, API is a really useful and beneficial tool in assisting programmers during the process of developing an application. API allows developers to create an application that is rich in features without adding extra workload during the process.