Video: What Is An API?

If you’ve ever sent an instant message, shopped online or browsed your favorite search engine the chances are you’re already familiar with an API.

Think about how you used to watch TV and how you can binge watch your favorite shows today.  Think about how you used to stay in touch with friends and how you can communicate instantly today.  APIs have transformed our world and has given us a digital lifestyle.

APIs are small software interfaces responsible for connecting us to a vast range of different technologies and devices.  Without them our world would suffer from post apocalyptic stress and those who survived would be pretty bored.

APIs provide interfaces for applications to connect to hence the term Application Programming Interface.  Interfaces allow applications to exchange data in a universal language.  Using interfaces applications can request information or send an instruction to any number of other applications.  Interfaces connect applications together in such a way that they can seamlessly communicate without knowing about each other.

Software programmers rely on APIs because without them they would have the unpleasant task of writing software code for every device or application they need to communicate with.  Device drivers are examples of such an API.

A graphics driver provides an API which developers use to send instructions to draw images on your screen.  Without the API the programmer would need to write separate code for every type of graphics card, operating system and computer.  That would be an impossible challenge.

APIs exist in just about everything from software applications to hardware devices and even machines.  When taking your car in for service the technicians make use of an API in your car’s on-board computer to read diagnostic information and to fine-tune your car for peak performance.

APIs are invisible and operate covertly.  When swiping your card at the checkout the terminal calls an API to process the transaction.  In the background the payment processor calls a series of API’s with your financial institution to deduct funds from your account and to credit the account of the merchant.  A few seconds after swiping your card, thanks to APIs, you feel a little poorer.

Desktop applications interact with interfaces provided by the operating system to perform a wide variety of functions.  Drawing windows or reacting to events is the task of application programming interfaces designed to interact between the application and the user.

Web APIs connect browsers and mobile devices to a vast array of products and services.  APIs allow organizations to provide the same user experience seamlessly across browsers, operating systems and mobile devices.  APIs are location independent so the experience remains the same at work or at home.  Yes, you can Facebook even in the most remote locations thanks to APIs.

APIs provide digital bridges between our physical lives and digital world.  They have given rise to possibilities previously only imagined and have paved the road for a future where wishes and desires are only a click away.

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Written by YourAPIExpert