What is an API and what is it used for?

Web Apps
< | 1 minute read | Pavel />
API image
API, or Application Programming Interface, is a term we often hear, but what does it actually mean? Loosely translated as an access interface for programs, an API allows applications to communicate with each other. How exactly does an API work, where is it used, and how can it benefit your business? Let's take a closer look.

What is an API?

Imagine an API as a store assistant. You go to them and ask for a specific item, or inquire about the availability of another. The assistant then performs certain actions – like checking the warehouse, looking at the store map, or searching for the requested item – and then responds to you or brings you what you want.

The principle of an API is exactly the same, except instead of people, two programs are communicating with each other. One program requests something from the other, and the other procures it. They can communicate in this way, for example:

  • A web page and a server where the database is running
  • A mobile application and a server where the database is running
  • The server part of an application with your accounting software

API thus functions as an intermediary, ensuring that different parts of a system communicate effectively.

Why use an API?

API facilitates communication between programs. Programs that communicate using an API do not need to be written in the same technology and often do not even need to run on the same device, server, or phone. API enables communication across the internet.

When your application uses third-party APIs, it can gain new features. For example, integrating with the Facebook API allows logging into an app or website using a Facebook account. Or connecting an information system with a third-party billing system.

How can API help in business?

Using API in business opens up many opportunities. If you use APIs from other services, such as Facebook, Gmail, or payment gateway or accounting system APIs, you quickly gain a large number of pre-prepared services. This reduces the cost of developing an application or website and also the maintenance demands, as you only maintain the communication interface with the third-party service. Many tasks can be automated and do not need to be done manually.

If you provide APIs to other services, it makes it easier for you to obtain the data needed for your operations. A well-documented and tested API can be a key factor in a client's decision between your service and a competitor's.

What is REST API?

You will often hear from us that the websites, applications, or information systems we develop communicate via secure REST APIs. REST API is built on the HTTP or HTTPS protocol and works similarly to loading web pages. What is important for you to know is that REST API is a recognized standard in IT development and is actively used in various projects by different development companies.

If you are interested in using API in your project, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help you with the integration and optimization of your systems.

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