In this article we are going to tell you what APIs are , the advantages of using APIs and how they work. It is very likely that you have already heard of APIs, but you still don’t really know what they are.

APIs are a fundamental part of the design process of some programs. In fact, nowadays, they are a fundamental part of many web applications and designs and they are not only used by private companies, but also by public companies, local bodies, etc.

What is an API and what is it for?

API stands for Application Programming Interfaces.

In other words, APIs are a set of protocols and definitions that are used to develop and integrate software, systems or applications and allow two of these software components to communicate with each other through a set of rules.

So, we can say that an API is a set of specifications that establishes how one software or program communicates with another to perform one or more functions.

As an end user, what you will see from APIs are the results they report. For example, when you open your Facebook account and you can share the results of a game. Both software are connected via an API.

APIs provide utilities that would otherwise have to be implemented. Imagine an API as a pocketknife. We can have a knife that only cuts and does it beautifully, but we can also have a Swiss Army knife that cuts, but also opens cans, uncorks bottles, and so on.

In short, APIs are the means by which systems provide utilities or, better said, expose functionalities that can be used by third parties and that they would otherwise have to implement.

Now that we are clearer about what an API is and what it is used for, let’s take a look at benefits of using an API.

What are the advantages of using APIs?

As for the advantages of using an API, we can look it from two points of view. On the one hand, there are the advantages for developers and, on the other, for users or, in this case, for your business.

For developers , the use of APIs makes life easier. An example that illustrates this very well is when an ecommerce application wants to implement a payment system. Developers can create a payment system from scratch or, by using a payment service API such as Paypal, they can save development time from scratch.

At the end it is all about taking what other developers have created and applying it to their own projects. It is a market like any other, which sells utility in the form of developments.

On the end-user side, APIs also have some very interesting advantages. The main one is cost savings , but there are more.

An API will help you transform your business into a company that can reach a target audience that, without an API, would have been inaccessible. New opportunities translate into new revenue.

An API will allow you to organise internal systems n a way that can support new innovative projects and substantial improvements in your business processes. But not only that, they also increase the agility of some tasks , making you spend less time on what used to take weeks or months.

In short, the use of APIs today represents a competitive advantage for many companies. In the end, they can improve everything from the user experience in an app, to extending an internal system of a business for use by third parties outside the company. Endless uses!

Types of APIs

We can differentiate between several types of APIs:

Web service APIs

Web service APIs make it possible to exchange information between an application and a website, generally by means of http or https requests.

Class-based APIs

Class-based APIs, on the other hand, are usually object-oriented with JAVA and allow the binding of data around classes. In short, it uses abstract classes for the creation of apps as any programme developing this language would do.

APIS of functions in operating systems

APIs usually facilitate the interaction of software with other operating systems.

Library-based APIS

They are normally used for the exchange of library information between an app and a software and are usually designed in JavaScript.

There is another diferenciation of APIs if we look at the scope of use, and they can be:

  • Private APIs: these are generated internally in a company and are used only within that company. The objective is to maximise productivity when integrating internal systems.
  • Public APIs: these are developed open to the public and anyone can use them, although the use of some of them may have an associated cost.

How do APIs work?

What APIs do is allow digital products and services to communicate with each other. A digital product is anything that can be bought or downloaded over the internet , so APIs act as “intermediaries” between the requests generated by users to the API and vice versa.

If we take into account that the business context in the digital world is increasingly developed and competition within it is greater, it would not be surprising that digital products that are based on APIs are themselves a tool or product.

We can state that when a business manages to implement an API in its operation, most of the time that business is placed in a higher level in terms of its competition. And that translates into more revenue.

Perhaps an example will make it easier to understand. Let’s imagine that a company that manufactures and sells furniture to other companies wants to offer its customers an application so that they can check on the web if there is stock available of the types of furniture.

Developing an application for this purpose would be very expensive and time-consuming, not to mention the ongoing maintenance to make it work properly. Therefore, by using an API developed to check wether or not there is stock, customers will be able to see if the company has inventory before placing an order and the furniture distribution company itself can make internal changes to the available stock and other features.

With an API already developed, the furniture company’s own developers would be able to develop an application to help customers choose the most suitable furniture for their needs.

This would represent an extra service for the furniture company and could result in more sales and happier customers.

APIs are an important part when it comes to software or application development because many services that we use on a daily basis would not exist without APIs.

Example of the use of APIs

APIs can be used for social, financial (including online payments), localisation, administration, management of Cloud platforms…

Some examples of where APIs are used:

  • E-commerce: Amazon, eBay
  • Location: Google Maps, Foursquare
  • Social: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr
  • Financial: PayPal, BBVA,Stripe, Adyen
  • Administration: World Bank
  • Communication: WhatsApp

Bespoke software development company

As you have seen, the implementation of an API s not limited to large companies, but any type of business, small or medium, can benefit from this technology.

If finally you have decided that you need a bespoke development for your business , at Yapiko we are at your complete disposal. We are specialist in application integration and bespoke developments. We will be delighted to help you.

> Contact us and we will advise you and help you with everything you need. You can also ask us for an estimate with no obligation. We do this because we want to help you grow as a company and because we like to get involved in every project.