What is an API?

Nowadays the term API is more and more frequently used. Developers create them, and a lot of people need to use API keys for tools they want to use. But what is an API?

API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface. An API allows two types of software to communicate with each other. For example:

You have a website with a contact form. Without an API, the form is submitted to an URL in the same codebase. With an API endpoint, the process which handles the request is decoupled and this logic is defined in a codebase on their own.

What is an endpoint?

An endpoint is an URL of an API. Every endpoint has standards, for example the data structure it expects (for example, for a basic contact form: the name, the email and a message). These standards are defined in an API documentation.

What are the advantages?

An API can easily be reused. A lot of projects who aren’t using an API have their front-end and back-end code mixed together. This makes it harder to maintain than decoupled code and harder to reuse. This is why the JAM-stack (JavaScript, API’s & Markup) is a great way to create a new website. It’s fast, and if you want to connect the data from your websites in a later stage with other software, you are ready to do so via the API.

Another advantage is better security. Applications who are fully static and only handle data from API’s do not need a direct connection to the database within the same codebase that is just meant to display the user interface.

After that, decoupling makes maintainability a lot easier and it makes it easier to test the code.

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Justin Fransen Author

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