The Unstoppable Future of API Development – Are We Still In The Game?

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From technical debt to adoption of challenges, find how the API economy is helpful in exchanging data securely, and access functionality of programs.

In a world where users are leveraging applications and data in new ways, technology is quickly moving to the forefront of business priorities as organizations undertake digital and IT transformation projects that enable strategic differentiation. Organizations in all industries must align with changing customer preferences to avoid being disrupted by a new crop of nimble competitors. Therefore, technology will increasingly determine how businesses define and distinguish themselves in the market.

Application programming interface (API) enables two applications to interact and exchange general information.  When you open an app like WhatsApp, LinkedIn or Facebook etc., to check weather, send instant messages, share a post or upload a photo, you’re making use of an API.

Making use of API in an open and flexible way for building platforms and capability makes it easier to merge systems data, locations, algorithms and things with individuals. This helps in adding new value for users and organizations while sharing data and information.

sharing data

Many don’t know this that you can still invest in the technology revolution since the internet; API’s are profoundly changing everything. Read on to learn why you should be watching this space closely.

An Affair with API

One application has an understanding of other application. Taking the example of a switch and Lightbulb, this situation is similar to pressing a button and lighting up the bulb. It will also resemble a scenario in which voice commands are used to lighten up the bulb. Now imagine, instead of saying ‘light up’, you have to instruct a computing device to do the task for you. As if you are scheduling a clock timer, that will do the things on prescribed time. Write the command, lightMeUp(). In this example, the application is the bulb itself. The interface is the understanding between the bulb and the user. It is essentially the interface for programming the application (the bulb). The API lets you know how to write out the commands to make the bulb do the stuff. This can be understood as an abstraction layer for software services and resources, so that they can be accessed as a bulb, without a need to understand how it will be implemented.
Three components that are combined to form the API = Application + Programming + Interface

  • The application defines the tools or programs that perform some specific function.
  • Programming defines the language that is used by applications to interact with each other.
  • The interface is the boundary that is shared by two programs to communicate amongst them.

An Example of Login API

Example of Login API

In the first method we call the API and in second method we get a response of that API.

Understanding the API

Scenario

Rachel is a user who goes to Barista coffee café and order’s a cappuccino coffee at Barista Counter. (A) That order goes to Kitchen (B). Coffee is prepared and sent to counter (C). Rachel will pick her coffee from the counter (D).

Understanding the API

 

Redefining This Scenario In API Way

A method is invoked and parameters are passed from User to Application (A). The request is sent from the Application interface to database (B). The database sends a response to the application interface(c). User receives a response from Application interface (D). The process is complete.

API Way

(Image source: sealifimg.pw )

How does Application Programming Interface (API) work?

Consider another scenario where a user requests weather information: While a naïve user requests for weather information, from New York to San Francisco, this process is facilitated by the help of an API. The request goes to weather.com and the webpage is read for the information. The app sends a query to weather.com with help of an API in a structured format like JSON and this in return is presented to the user in an appropriate structured format. The use of API becomes evident when we check the website directly. In this particular case, the app relies on a particular structure of data to collect the information and fulfill the user request.

The app does not work in case the webpage is redesigned. A new API has to be created by the app developers in that case. Proper use of API is advisable so that user gets to know the behavior, usage details, anomalies and security risks within the technology operation, which is not possible otherwise.

How API work

(Image source: electronicproducts.com)

Types of API

Here is a list of four types of servers (API’s) that pretend to be different in every different scenario, to suit each specific need and provide particular tools. Every API exposes the same interface for the clients to use and is simultaneously unaware of the specific server-side behavior.

  • Production API

Every app will need a production API. The server sends the data from the database to the app and that is what is readable by users. This can be updated on demand and permissions and business logic can be enforced. It returns data to only those users who can see it.

  • Development API

Also known as fake API’s, or a body double of production API, this API works on the client before Production API is available.

  • Mock API

This helps in adding reusability to the code, custom testing and consistency to the code.

  • Fuzzing API

It returns data in the way client expects it to be. It makes use of random data to generate various problem states

API Must-Have Features

Essential features that every API must have:

  • Search based on multiple criteria – API enables users to search data based on various criteria
  • Paging – It decides how much data is to be displayed in one instance and how frequently it has to do this. This also includes informing the users about how much data is remaining
  • Sorting – It enables sorting of data at the time of updating it
  • JSON Support/Restful API – This enables parsing as JSON syntax resembles with that of many other programming languages. This enables effective API development.
  • Abiding by OAuth – As it is faster than other methods, this reduces processing time, enhances response time and high level of security.

API Best Practices

Industry wide practices that app developers must follow:

  • Make use of Throttling
  • Allow overriding HTTP method
  • Consider your API gateway as an enforcer
  • Make use of available documentation

API Applications

Consider these two highly detailed case studies to understand API’s better:

Case 1:

API Case 1

Case 2:

API Case 2

Other API-Use Cases:

  • Payment API’s
  • Banking data API
  • KYC/AML API
  • Brokerage API’s
  • API’s for aerospace and defense blast off
  • Drilling into API usage in Chemical and Petroleum
  • Learning your ABCs using API’s – API’s in Education
  • In the Electronics industry
  • In Government affairs
  • In healthcare
  • In insurance
  • In travel and transportation
  • In telecom
  • Using API’s to build smarter cities
  • Using API’s in the retail industry
  • Using API’s a prescription for life sciences
  • API’s as a cure for accessing health care systems
  • Weather API’s are used to track the severity,  timing, and tracking of storm

A Proposition to Proffer

An Application programming interface (API) can be a means of communication between App to App and will essentially assist in requesting, sending and updating information or a mechanism that supports such information. Hardware engineers are working in close coordination with programmers to design appropriate API platforms that manage things like security, access management, and gateways. The API’s provide valuable information to end users and also acts as a bridge between these worlds. Whether it is for an intelligent home, a smarter supply chain manufacturing or an e-health application, it will influence the way in which people live, work and play together. This list is illustrative list of API use cases being used by various mobile app development agencies.  Indian mobile app developers find many additional use cases as their efforts progress. This is the place to start, contact us for details

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About Author
Neeti Kotia

Neeti Kotia

Neeti got her master's degree in software engineering in 2009 and has been working since for software companies of all sizes as a technical writer. What started as a high school passion has now been converted into a serious profession. She has a special knack of learning from all verticals and imbibing the extracts into her writing. She enjoys learning technical aspects of writing from her tasks where her experience and understanding are most impactful.

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