What is an API and what does it do

As developers, we are often asked to do the impossible. Deliver more, faster. But with the help of APIs, we can bridge the gap between what businesses are asking for and what is actually possible.

Thanks to APIs which is known as “Application Programming Interface”, we can reduce repetitive yet complex processes and dramatically speed up our application development processes.

What is an API and what does it do? Learn from the following 2-min video video from the OpenAPIHub Team.

By reusing existing code via APIs, we can focus on meeting the unique needs of each individual business rather than rewriting code for every project. APIs help us close the IT delivery gap and meet the ever-growing needs of businesses. So the next time you’re building an app, website, or program, remember to thank APIs for all they do to help us speed up our development process!

In the article, we will cover the following topics

  • What Exactly is an API?
  • API and the Restaurant Analogy
  • How an API Works?
  • Why Does API Matters?

What Exactly is an API

API stands for “Application Programming Interface”. It is a set of protocols and rules that allow software applications to communicate with each other. An API simplifies software development by enabling different pieces or apps that are built on top each other; they also help businesses open up its platforms so external developers may work separately while still retaining control over who has access – whether you’re sharing information across departments internally at your company HQ., partnering together outside vendors providing services specific needs like customer support tickets handled remotely via chatbots.

APIs have been a huge player in simplifying and increasing innovation. They enable companies to open up their applications’ data for external third-party developers, business partners or internal departments of the same company with ease by documenting what functions each API provides so that any developer can easily use them without needing knowledge on how it’s implemented which saves time when developing new products instead having someone who does know all about these details figure out where things go wrong before you even start building your product from scratch!

Developers can easily connect any application with another through APIs. This makes it possible for companies to share data and functionality between their applications, which in turn creates new ways of innovation within the business world as well!

API and the Restaurant Analogy

We are going to use the famous “Restaurant Analogy” to illustrate what API does.

Application Programming Interface or also known as “API”, they work behind the scenes everyday to make communication and information exchange easier between different computers. 

You can imagine API as a waiter in a restaurant, and you are being seated at the able and a waiter called API comes to you with a menu. After placing your order, the waiter API passes it to the kitchen for further processing. When the order is ready, the waiter returns to you with your order food.

OpenAPIHub API Restaurant Analogy
OpenAPIHub API Restaurant Analogy

In this API Restaurant Analogy,

  • You act as an API customer that sends out the request.
  • The waiter is the API, who takes your request to the kitchen and brings your food back to you.
  • And the kitchen is a large database that contains all the ingredients needed to make your food.

Let’s get back to the a real life example – the use of whether data.  Most of the time when you see weather widgets on websites like Google, they are actually sourcing information from third-party with API. The weather API helps to send the latest weather details to the websites.

How an API Works

As stated the above paragraph, APIs are set of defined rules that explain how application talking with one another. They’re here in order for developers, engineers and other professionals who want access but can’t always see inside their own programs or apps how they work so as not break anything! APIs sit between an application& web servers acting as intermediaries during data transfer processings between systems. A great API can really help make things easier when building software because instead of having hundreds (or even thousands)of lines just trying get something done yourself – all they’ll need from developers is a few lines!

Here is how an API works in general

1) A client application requests information via an API, it is processed by the server and sent to one or more applications behind. The Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) specifies which applications will receive this request including together with the request verb, header and payloads.

2) The server sends a response and transfer data to the API with the requested information from the applications behind

APIs provide a means of security by design because they act as an intermediary between two systems, which removes the chance that either party will have access to sensitive information directly. APIs usually include authorization credentials so calls can only be made with correct permissions and/or limits on what’s being requested from middleware components like header fields or query string parameters for additional protection during exchanges over HTTP requests within sessions

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Different Types of APIs – Public API, Private API & Partner API

There are also different types of APIs depends on it usage and setting – Public API, Private API & Partner API.

  • Public APIs are open to anyone and can be used without restrictions. They are often used by companies to make their products and services available to the general public. 
  • Private APIs are only accessible by authorized users and may be subject to usage restrictions. They are typically used by companies to provide access to their internal data and systems for authorized employees and partners.
  • Partner APIs are available to authorized partners of the API provider and may have special terms and conditions associated with their use.

Why Does API Matters

API is the backbone of how businesses operate and communicate with one another. They make it possible for companies to share data and functionality between their applications, which in turn creates new ways of innovation within the business world as well. Without APIs, the world would be a very different place – businesses would be much less efficient and communication would be more difficult.

API Improve Collaborations

API developers create code that allows applications to exchange data and functionality. This enables companies to develop new ways of working together and improves collaboration. For example, imagine a customer service application that needs to access data from a CRM system. The customer service application would use an API to request the data from the CRM system, and the CRM system would then provide the data via the API.

APIs are the driving force behind integration and seamless communication between different platforms. This enables automation of workflows, improved collaboration within an organization as well more information sharing among enterprises which improves productivity while also resulting in better performance for each company involved.

API Make Innovation Easier

API’s have made innovation easier by allowing different companies to connect with each other. This has allowed for companies to diversify their services and access new markets. API’s have also driven digital transformation by allowing companies to more easily adopt new technologies.

APIs are the lifeblood of modern business. They allow companies to integrate their platforms and apps together, improving workplace productivity by automating workflows or providing access information from different sources in one place – without APIs you’re left with informational silos which compromise performance!

API Make Algorithm and Data Monetisation Possible

Many companies are making their APIs available for free so that they can build an audience around their brand and forge relationships with potential business partners. However, if the API grants access to valuable digital assets then you could monetise it by selling usage rights in those resources.

API monetisation is the process of generating revenue from an API. This can be done in a number of ways, including charging for access to the API, charging for usage of the API, selling data accessed through the API, or selling API-based services. API monetisation is becoming increasingly important as companies look for new ways to generate revenue.

The global API economy is expected to grow from $US 5.3 billion in 2017 to $US 11.2 billion by 2021, and API monetisation is a key factor driving this growth.


So, what is an API? In a nutshell, it’s the bridge behind how applications talk to each other. By understanding how APIs work and why they matter, you can start building your own—and reap all of the benefits that come with better collaborations, innovation, and data monetisation. Ready to get started?

Btw the way, why don’t you try our award-winning API platform – OpenAPIHub for FREE now? OpenAPIHub is a SaaS API Platform that help you bootstrap API business collaboration in minutes. Check the following 1-min What is OpenAPIHub video for more and try OpenAPIHub for Free!

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