What’s an API ?!?
The What, Why, Who, How, Where and When…
But Remember That...
Series about technologies explained in plain, non-geek language.
What’s an API?
An Application Programming Interface is a computing system’s
protected doorway through which a consuming computing system
can access exposed functions and data.
To access the providing system, a consumer
must use a special key otherwise, the API will
Retrieve a list of
Add a new
Modify a contact Contact
Do one creates an API?: API facilitates system’s interoperability
which decreases functional and data redundancy. For example,
one system that needs the contact information can simply ask
the Contact master system to provide it.
Do one consumes an API?: Interoperability provides a faster
time to market as it is more efficient to reuse a functional
capability that already exists in a system than to rebuild or
duplicate that functionality in a new system. It also increase
data quality by decreasing data redundancy across systems
which is a major cause of dirty / stale information.
Creates and owns an API: the providing system owner creates
the API. The system owner may elect to publicly expose and
monetize its API such as large API providers like Google and
Amazon. Cloud computing is a great enabler for such business
model (eg: API economy).
Consumes an API: these could be the organization’s internal
systems or any external systems to which the API owner grants
access, either freely or at a cost.
Build and expose an API: technical skills are required such as
API analysis and design, networking, programming, securing,
deploying, monitoring, monetizing, and other similar
Consume an API: technical skills are also required but an API is
typically much easier to consume than to build. It mostly
requires analytical and programming skills to adapt the
consuming system to use the API.
Where are API’s
Private API’s: these are exposed on an organization’s closed
network and can only be accessed by internal authorized
Shared API’s: these are exposed on an organization’s open*
network and can only be accessed by internal and external
Public API’s: these are exposed on the Web and are accessible
to any systems for which an authorization key is granted either
freely or at a cost.
*Open network are securely accessible from outside an organization through the Internet or VPNs
Build an API: when you realize that the functionalities of a given
system could be reused by other internal or external systems,
whether privately or publicly.
Consume an API: when you realize that functionalities you need
are readily available from other private or public systems that
provides an accessible API.
But remember that...
An API is not an obscure backdoor. It is knowingly exposed and
documented so the consumers know how to use it.
An API does not have to expose all the functions and data of its
An API can evolve over time (adding, modifying, removing
API’s from various providers can be used to build a whole system
by itself or integrated to an existing system.
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the maze of modern technologies
● Business & System Architect (Enterprise / Solution).
● Executive Advisor for Cloud, Mobile, Social medias,
Big Data, Internet of Things and API's/Open Source