API (Application Program Interface)

An application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. Basically, an API specifies how software components should interact. Additionally, APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then puts the blocks together.

What are Different Types of APIs?

There are many different types of APIs for operating systems, applications or websites. Windows, for example, has many API sets that are used by system hardware and applications — when you copy and paste text from one application to another, it is the API that allows that to work.

Most operating environments, such as MS-Windows, provide APIs, allowing programmers to write applications consistent with the operating environment. Today, APIs are also specified by websites. For example, Amazon or eBay APIs allow developers to use the existing retail infrastructure to create specialized web stores. Third-party software developers also use Web APIs to create software solutions for end-users.

Read More: Interested in learning more about software engineering? Visit the TechRepublic Academy.

What are Examples of Popular APIs?

ProgrammableWeb, a site that tracks more than 15,500 APIs, lists Google Maps, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Amazon Product Advertising as some of the the most popular APIs. The following list contains several examples of popular APIs:

  1. Google Maps API: The Google Maps API lets developers embed Google Maps on webpages using a JavaScript or Flash interface. The Google Maps API is designed to work on mobile devices and desktop browsers.
  2. YouTube APIs: YouTube’s APIs let developers integrate YouTube videos and functionality into websites or applications. YouTube APIs include the YouTube Analytics API, YouTube Data API, YouTube Live Streaming API, YouTube Player APIs, and others.
  3. Flickr API: The Flickr API is used by developers to access the Flick photo sharing community data. The Flickr API consists of a set of callable methods, and some API endpoints.
  4. Twitter APIs: Twitter offers two APIs. The REST API allows developers to access core Twitter data and the Search API provides methods for developers to interact with Twitter search and trends data.
  5. Amazon Product Advertising API: Amazon’s Product Advertising API gives developers access to Amazon’s product selection and discovery functionality. Devs can then incorporate advertisements of  Amazon products to monetize a website.

UPDATED: This article was updated April 5, 2021 by Web Webster

 

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

Top Articles

List of Windows Operating System Versions & History [In Order]

The Windows operating system (Windows OS) refers to a family of operating systems developed by Microsoft Corporation. We look at the history of Windows...

How to Create a Website Shortcut on Your Desktop

Website Shortcut on Your Desktop reviewed by Web Webster   This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a website shortcut on your desktop using...

What are the Five Generations of Computers? (1st to 5th)

Reviewed by Web Webster Learn about each of the 5 generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the computing devices that...

Hotmail [Outlook] Email Accounts

Launched in 1996, Hotmail was one of the first public webmail services that could be accessed from any web browser. At its peak in...

Merkle Tree

Merkle trees—or hash trees—are cryptographic algorithms allowing for the efficient validation...

Nimble CRM

Nimble CRM is a social CRM (customer relationship management) with sales and marketing...

What is Insightly CRM?

Insightly CRM is customer relationship management (CRM) software that focuses on an intuitive,...