What does API documentation mean


What is an API

API stands for Application Programming Interface. APIs are used to connect third-party programs to software at the source code level. The data exchange via API takes place in real time.

Table of Contents

  1. What does an API do?
  2. How does an API interface work?
  3. What types of APIs are there?
  4. What is a REST API?
  5. What are the advantages of programming interfaces?
  6. Examples of popular interfaces

What does an API do?

An API enables data to be exchanged between software and program parts. This is done according to a structure that has been defined in advance. A key goal of APIs is to simplify programming through modularization. Each part of the program that is linked using the application programming interface is separate from the rest of the application. The communication between these individual program modules can only take place via the specific programming interface. Essentially, an API enables access to the following components:

  • Databases
  • hardware
  • surfaces
  • Individual application functions

An application programming interface is not to be confused with a user interface (UI) that is exclusively responsible for connecting the user and software logic.

How does an API interface work?

From a technical point of view, an application programming interface only specifies how data is received and sent from a specific application part. In contrast to a classic binary interface, this is done purely at the source code level. Programmers create a syntax for this, including relevant parameters. The API is usually also well documented so that it is understandable for the target group.

What types of APIs are there?

Basically, application programming interfaces can be divided into the following types:

What is a REST API?

REST stands in the context of an API for Representational State Transfer. This is a special type of interface that is responsible for exchanging data on distributed systems. This is particularly relevant for web applications. Here it is often necessary to distribute tasks and data to different servers or to request them from servers (HTTP request).

What are the advantages of programming interfaces?

Programs today have to be highly available, as error-free as possible and easy to maintain. For this reason, modularization - i.e. the breaking down of complex software into individual program parts - is becoming increasingly popular. APIs ensure communication between the modules. The main advantages of modularization using programming interfaces are:

  • Simplification of the application structure
  • Quick responsiveness in the event of errors (only affected modules and API data have to be checked
  • Reusability of modules

In addition, APIs with meaningful documentation allow programming services to be outsourced. So parts of the software development can be outsourced. In addition, third-party providers can implement their own functions for software thanks to application programming interfaces. The flexibility and attractiveness of the entire system increases. If APIs are not changed in the long term, this also increases the long-term stability of programs.

Examples of popular programming interfaces

API interfaces are now available in numerous programs. Public web APIs in particular are very popular. For example, the following services offer an API:

  • Google Maps (e.g. for integrating the service on your own website)
  • PayPal (integration of PayPal transactions into your own purchase process)
  • DHL (integration of shipment tracking in your own systems or shops)

The author of this article is Ertan Ă–zdil, CEO, founder and partner of the cloud ERP provider weclapp.

Please note the legal information on this article.