An application programming interface (API) is designed to help machines, applications, or software to communicate with one another. It’s the messenger that tells the server about what you want to do and comes back with the appropriate response. Examples of API in action include sending instant messages, logging into your social media accounts, and even booking flights or purchasing items online.
Although this is the main function of an API, there are several types of APIs that come with different levels of accessibility, difficulty curves, and additional functions. As a new or experienced developer, these factors are what you should consider when creating a new application.
Of course, you could settle for an API toolkit such as Stoplight for teams and enterprises if you’re looking for an all-round software. However, using a specific API might be more economical and aligned with your goals. To know which one perfectly addresses your project’s needs, listed below are 5 different types of APIs and how they can affect the developer’s experience and output.
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Web/Network API is an open-source interface, which means anyone can study, fix, and modify the source code to improve its design. It’s also a more affordable option, with many open-source products being free or only charging for the software’s setup, support, or hosting. Additionally, it works in a RESTful way, has a lightweight architecture, and is more versatile than other APIs. As a result, you can design a program that can be consumed by the following clients:
- Mobile and Desktop Applications
- HTTP Clients
Product API is designed to help merchants create an online store catalog. Each product they sell comes with an API, which can be acquired by other companies. Every time a product is installed on a different site, its information from the original website is copied. Product API also allows developers to manipulate the product’s information one at a time or in batches, making it easier to update the status of the product.
Standard API adheres to the standard that’s established by an organization or team. Once a set of guidelines is implemented, the program will be easy to understand and use. This yields a more consistent experience for developers and every stakeholder in the team. Plus, you can build off from a standard API, so you can develop new applications with ease.
System embedded API
System embedded API is a proprietary API that allows developers to build applications for devices with no standard for access. This API is offered in the hardware and can somehow be accessed through the browser.
Why it pays to choose the right API
API may not be a term known by many, but it plays an important role when it comes to the business and technical side of things. With the correct API, you can maintain an efficient workflow because it’ll be easier and quicker to update a lot of data. It’ll also improve the functionality of a variety of devices, from laptops to tablets and phones, because of its versatility. Plus, it keeps everyone connected since it’s able to send your request and return with a response in an instant.