What is Web API?
An application programming interface (API) is a set of subroutine definitions, data structures, object classes, protocols, and tools for building software and applications.
To put it in simple word, API is some kind of interface which has a set of functions that allow programmers to access specific features or data of an application, operating system or other services.
Web API as the name suggests, is an API over the web which can be accessed using HTTP protocol. It is a concept and not a technology. We can build Web API using different technologies such as PHP, Java, .NET etc. For example, Twitter’s REST APIs provide programmatic access to read and write data using which we can integrate twitter’s capabilities into our own web application.
Advantages of using Web APIs
The advantages of using an Application Programming Interface, or API, in Web development are based on an API’s ability to interact with Web pages. Programmers use API technology to write applications that provide useful services to your site’s visitors, such as access to remote database content and your website services. Some external APIs make it possible to display content from third party services like Google Maps, twitter and Facebook, while others allow you to accept online payments. Ultimately, an API’s advantages depend on your Web development needs and the particular API you choose to use.
1) External Database Access/Information sharing
APIs provide ability to website visitors to access remote, password-protected databases. Your API password and username authorizes permission for information or data to be exchanged between your website and the APIs database-driven resources. An API’s functions include connecting, fetching and closing the access to its affiliated server as necessary.
Analyze the areas of your website’s services to discover features that an API can handle. The right API can function a lot like outsourcing in the sense that you can use an API to manage parts of an online business. Tasks that are helpful but not essential to the core of your business can be addressed by an API; for example, you can use an API to handle tasks on your behalf so that you can focus on the most critical functions of your business.
3) Security Protection
Some API applications access additional servers as necessary. Protection from security-related vulnerabilities is an API-specific advantage worth investigating as you choose an API for your website. An API that won’t require you to expand trust to multiple remote servers can maintain your site’s security. Examine the security risks associated with an API of interest before incorporating one into your site.
The cross platform applications are linked with each other using the API and automate their process communication to avoid manual interventions.
5) Extended ability to customize user experience
with an API an application layer can be created which can be used to distribute information and services to new audiences which can be personalized to create custom user experiences.
when access is provided to an API, the content generated can be published automatically and is available for every channel. It allows it to be shared and distributed more easily.
APIs allow content to be embedded from any site or application more easily. This guarantees more fluid information delivery and an integrated user experience.