API – Application Programming Interface
API (application programming interface) is a summary of the arrangements (a kit of classes, procedures, functions, structures or constants) for one machine program can communicate with another.
Mostly, it included in the record of an Internet protocol (for example, RFC), a software framework, or a pattern for calling operating systems. It can be also achieved by a separate software library or operating system service. Programmers use it to build any type of application API as an application’s integration tool.
API as an applications’ integration tool
The API names the functionality that the program (module, library) provides. Meanwhile, the API enables you to obscure how specifically this functionality is executed.
If the program (module, library) is considered as a black box, then the API is lots of “handles” that are accessible to the user of this box which he can twist and pull.
Software elements interact with each other through the API. In this case, the elements build a hierarchy – high-level elements use the low-level API elements, and those use even the lower-level API elements.
Protocols for transferring data over the Internet are developed according to this method. The conventional protocol stack (OSI network model) contains 7 levels (from the natural layer of bit shift to the level of application protocols related to the HTTP and IMAP protocols).
Every level applies the functionality of the prior (“underlying”) data variation layer and implements the fundamental functionality to the subsequent (“overlying”) level.
The functions and classes API library includes a description of signatures and semantics of functions.
Keep It Simple
The API should be simple, and preferably logical. It seemed to be so simple that it might go wrong. Nevertheless, people put completely different meanings in this word – the degree of simplicity is completely different for everyone.
A good API is one that doesn’t make you write too much. You use some method on the API and continue to work with data, and you do not need to write scary conditions.
Operating system API
Nearly all operating systems (UNIX, Windows, OS X, etc.) have an API where programmers can produce applications for any operating system. The main API of operating systems is lots of system calls.
The API’s common standards APIs play an important role in the software industry. They ensure that all programs that use the common API work equally well, or at least in a typically familiar way.
On the other hand, differences in the API of various operating systems make it difficult to transfer applications between platforms.
There are various workarounds for this complexity – writing “intermediate” APIs (wxWidgets, GTK GUIs, etc.), writing libraries that trace system calls from one OS to another (runtimes such as Wine, cygwin, etc.), the introduction of coding standards in programming languages (for example, the standard C language library), the writing of interpreted languages implemented on different platforms (sh, python, perl, php, tcl, Java, etc.).
Let’s Agree That The Interface Should Be
- Simple and logical
- But not to the detriment of opportunities
By consistent, it means that if the API has methods that work with the same data types, these data types must be described the same way.
For example, in the Maps API, the coordinate data type is often used, they are presented in our form as an array – latitude, longitude. And they are so described everywhere, that is, we do not have methods that would accept an XY object, Long Lat objects, or two objects in general. Coordinates are represented everywhere by an array.
But all of the above, of course, should not be at the expense of opportunities.
It happens that there are some complex tasks that simply cannot be described simply, which require many parameters at the input. Or the results of your method in the API depend on a third party.
Then each situation needs to be considered separately, and now I will tell you a little how we solve such problems.
A Good Api Is Fast, Scalable, And Secure.
A good API provides developers with a powerful API for integrating data into existing systems or creating custom solutions.
A good API is implemented using the REST protocol. Using HTTP methods (such as GET, PUT, POST, or DELETE), you can exchange data in an easy-to-understand JSON format.
Many features help you synchronize sales, products, customers, or inventory with any application or system. You can also use webhooks to receive real-time updates.
We want the majority of users (in this case, users are developers who use the API) to pass the minimum number of necessary arguments to the method, and to solve additional problems, they should have already written additional arguments.
It should also be marked that the programmer often has various distinct APIs at his disposal to accomplish the equivalent result. Also, each API is normally executed applying the API of software elements of a lower-level distraction.
At the identical point, essentially at each level, there are really plural potential alternative APIs. For instance, we can write the source text, not in HTML, but in LaTeX, to display we can practice any browser.
In addition, various browsers manage complex HTML libraries, in addition, all this can be arranged by applying different primitive libraries and on separate operating systems.
As a rule, web development uses a certain set of HTTP requests, as well as determining the structure of HTTP responses, and for the expression, they use XML or JSON formats.
The Web API is almost a synonym for the web service, but recently, due to the trend of Web 2.0, the transition from SOAP to the REST type of communication has been carried out. Web interfaces that combine several services in new applications are known as a hybrid.
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A Good API Does Not Burn On Fire And Does Not Sink In Water
You probably had such a case in your developer’s practice.
You are resting, maybe it was a day off, maybe even a night, you are calm and relaxed, suddenly the manager calls you and says that nothing works in production, your software product has broken.
And here you hardly remember that the last release of the product was 2 months ago, everything was fine and everything worked like a Swiss watch, and in principle, nothing should have broken.
“Nothing, As They Say, Did Not Portend Any Trouble And Problems In The Product“
You urgently connect to the working network, open the debugger, begin to understand what is happening, and suddenly you realize that everything is fine and fine on your part. Some API that you used in the product broke down.
More precisely, it did not even break, it simply began to work differently, not in the way you expect and not in the way it should work. This means that backward compatibility has been broken.
Backward compatibility is a guarantee that once published interface will be supported in the future. In principle, it would be good to infinity, but, in fact, within the framework of the current major version.
In General, Everything Is Logical. Did, It Works – Do Not Touch!
To do something new, do it somewhere on the sidelines, do not touch the old. But not so simple. Backward compatibility imposes a very strong restriction on the development of any new components, any new interfaces.
When you decide to publish a new interface, you should think about the degree of freedom of the developer.
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