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What is an API? How and why to use an API?

Have you came across the word ‘API’? Does it seems complicated to you? Than this post is for you. APIs might seem complicated, but by the end of this post, you’ll know how they work and what using them entails.

What is an API?
An API, short for automatic programming interface, is a series of rules. To be even clearer, it is an information middleman. APIs allow for an application to extract information from a piece of software and use that information in their own application, or sometimes for data analysis.

In the plainest terms, an API is a blueprint that enables “your stuff” to talk to and work with “their stuff.” Your stuff, in this case, is known as the “API endpoint.”

What is an API endpoint?

An API endpoint is the destination of the API requested by a website owner. If a content management system (CMS) requests access to an API, the CMS serves as the API’s endpoint. It’s important for websites to function well so they can become secure and supportive endpoints for developers looking to share their data.

Why are APIs important?
One of the first questions many marketers ask is: Why do all of these businesses share their data openly, for free?

Normally, the answer is: scale. As software companies grow, the staff within those companies quickly realize they have more ideas than they have time and resources to develop them.

By creating APIs, companies let third-party developers create applications that can improve usage and adoption of the main platform. In that way, a business can build an ecosystem that becomes dependent on the data from their API — a dynamic that often leads to additional revenue opportunities.

How to Use an API
Understanding the value of a particular API is essentially about understanding what information is available through an API and how it can be accessed. To find out what a particular API can do for you, you can do one of two things.

Ask a web developer to look at an API and discuss it with you.
Do the research on your own. If you don’t have access or budget to use a web developer, this is an appealing option. But don’t panic — many online services have good API documentation.

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