The growth of any medium depends on seamless communication and coordination.
Be it digital or analog; no process can flourish without establishing a strong connection between the mediums.
Lately, API development has become the talk of the digital town because of its potential to ease communication between different software applications; its popularity has exponentially increased not only among web developers but also across many businesses as it is a useful tool for making digital operations hasslefree.
What is an API?
According to Google, an API, or Application Programming Interface, is a digital interface that acts as an information gateway and defines interactions between different software intermediaries.
Simply put, it is a computing interface that helps communicate data between different software.
API is a connection between apps.
In the past, the tool was used mainly to integrate desktop applications, but recently API development has become a popular tool among web developers.
Why Web APIs Are Important?
Web APIs are a set of functions available online which enables web developers to use that data and integrate it into their apps or websites.
It allows for the digital community’s ease of use across the digital mediums. Although there are many types of APIs, the most popular are the ones related to social networking, mapping, shopping, and music.
The most common example of an API is the sign-in feature of Google or Facebook. If you have an account in any of these social media, then you can log in to many websites just using these accounts; API development has made all this possible.
Popularity Among The Web Developers
As mentioned earlier, the concept was initially utilized to improve the OS experience of desktop users. In recent years, as we all know, digital took over. Organizational entities left no stone unturned to optimize their website to provide their users with the best browsing experience.
The priority suddenly shifted, and the focus was now providing a smooth and hassle-free experience to web users worldwide. In recent years, web API usage has increased many folds.
Back in 2005, there were only 32 APIs listed on ProgrammableWeb – one of the largest sources of online APIs. But the figure jumped to 3000 in 2011, and just months later, another 1000 APIs were added to the total sum.
Some of The Widely Used Web APIs
There are thousands of web APIs available on the internet, but the following are the main APIs that are used by millions of users around the globe:
1. Facebook APIs
If you are into reading online, you must have encountered Facebook’s like, comment, and share option integrated to the website. Facebook – the social media giant – offers social plugin APIs that allow different websites to use that database. Some of the APIs include:
- Facebook Workplace
- Facebook Graph API
2. Google APIs
Google is the most used search engine and one of the biggest hubs of free useful APIs that you can access. It provides a large variety of web APIs – both paid and free – that you can use to integrate different functionalities to your web pages.
Some of the APIs are listed below:
- Google Chart API: a useful tool if you are a website that deals in numbers and stats. With this API, Google enables you to showcase all sorts of charts to your benefit.
- Google Feed: simply put, you can easily add the functionality of Google’s feed by using this API.
- Google Maps: with over a billion users who travel, they need a navigation tool. Google maps is the most reliable source, and hence you will find this integrated into every website.
- Google Libraries: this is an online resource for the distribution of the content related to widely used java scripts. The library includes Mootools, Prototype, Dojo, JQuerry, and many more.
- Google+: this API enables you to add the functionalities of Google+ to your web pages.
3. Youtube APIs
Almost every video you see on every other website is the one integrated from YouTube. Back in the days, even on Facebook, it was common to see videos linked from Youtube.
Youtube provides both data-based and player APIs, which give the developers control over the look and feel of youtube videos on their web page.
4. Amazon Product Advertising API
This API gives Amazon’s database access to a website and enables it to use and display that product information on their websites.
Amazon also offers the opportunity to earn through an affiliate program by using this API.
5. Social Media APIs
There are APIs that might not be that popular, but they still do exist. Bing, a search engine, offers two APIs, which allows a website to use its search engine and maps service on its page.
Twitter and LinkedIn also provide APIs that can be integrated into relevant digital mediums. LinkedIn is a popular option among corporate sectors that are interested in displaying detailed company information to look more formal and trustworthy.
What Are The Benefits Of API Development
APIs have made life easy for web developers and end-users alike. The benefits attached to the API development depends on how it is being used; whatever it may be, API integration brings a lot to the table.
A Tool From Heaven for The Developers
API integration is an easy process, which does not require deep knowledge and is easily configured.
A web developer doesn’t have to start from scratch to create a functionality that already exists and is available for free. Not only it speeds up the web development costs, but it also helps the expenses to a minimum.
API functionality helps the developer to create a more customizable and flexible web page. It is more reliable and competent than just copy-pasting generic widgets.
A Pleasant User Experience
All the efforts of web development are around the ease of the end-user. It is a developer’s job to create a website that even a 6-year-old can use.
API is yet another tool to satisfy the needs of the customer. The most common example here is the sign-in feature. Almost every reputable website has included the option of signing up to their websites by using Facebook or a google account. If you own any of the ones, you can easily login with just a click.
Hence, a useful API can help increase the usefulness of a website by making it more attractive, interactive, and enjoyable.
A Blessing In Disguise For Businesses
Online businesses all over are trying really hard to provide the users with the best digital experience that one can offer. Easier said than done; providing optimal digital experience is becoming a challenge with every passing year.
However, API solutions are a ray of hope that has made things manageable. API development has become a digital glue that not only encourages the developer to create a better website but also helps businesses to integrate interactive functionalities, which helps them attract web traffic.
APIs have paved a path for new business models for online businesses; without the magic of API, we can’t even think of booking an airline ticket, a hotel room, and paying our bills by the same app.
Companies that are implementing APIs are already earning a hefty chunk of money, either by establishing sales channels or by monetizing their digital assets and then making them available to different websites.
For example, if you are an online-based clothing business, you must already have a database of your clothing line and the location of your stores; but the problem here is that the information is only available on your web page. By developing an API, you can easily give access to that database to other web entities, making you reach more audiences without much of a hassle.
Reap The True Potential Of Data
Data is the new treasure that the world is after. It is an extremely crucial digital asset consisting of valuable information; unfortunately, due to the lack of proper management tools, organizations are unable to utilize the information they have in store to its full capacity.
API helps you to connect operational systems with data, making it possible for you to set daily strategic goals. It is also capable of processing your entire data into visual representation or even in the form of analytical reports through multiple dashboards; this allows organizations to measure KPIs, identify new business opportunities, and keep track of your resources. The new opportunities can help you make informed decisions that can streamline new business ideas for creating new products and services.
With the help of an API, data can also be made public; it means providing a free source of information to the masses that can also be reproduced. Becoming a free source of information will not only make an organization more credible, but it also increases transparency, which is crucial for public and private entities alike.
Establishing A Connection Between Digital Mediums
The mobility of the data makes it usable; a chunk of data stored in an unconnected system is useless for a company.
An organization having a network can utilize data more efficiently because it makes it easier for different departments to collaborate to achieve a common goal.
An API gives access to data without compromising the system it’s stored on. Every member of the company can get the information directly from the main source, mitigating the risk of errors, duplication, and inefficiencies.
API development also helps in the cross-functional management process and aiding the collaboration between different teams by:
- Connecting the different tools that each team is using. The collaboration between different systems increases productivity by making the entire process fast and smooth. The content needed by different teams is made easily accessible, so the work happens at a quicker pace.
- Enabling the option of sharing knowledge across different mediums, which increases the accuracy of the outcome. It ensures that every team is on the same page by making the communication between the members easy.
- Creating a common platform, where the performance of each member of the organization can be monitored. By doing so, a company can easily calculate the worth of its employee. This makes the productivity of every member transparent so that every individual can be evaluated for his contribution to the company’s success.
With the hackers on the loose, data breaches have become quite normal these days. Due to insufficient coding, cybersecurity management, or authentication issues, your data will always be at a security risk. A well- developed API can be an added security layer that will protect your data from daily risk.
A company can easily control the access of its information by choosing from the options of public, private, and internal APIs. a developer can add security provisions into the API, which will keep the database safe from any kind of breach. Users need to get authorized credentials in order to access the system, which not only makes the data safe but also provides a trail of user history.
Compatibility With Modern Technology
There is a possibility that a company is still working on systems that are outdated and are not compatible with current technological trends. At times, it gets difficult for the startups to buy into modern computing systems; it is impossible for such companies to undergo modernization to compete with the technological advancements. This is where API comes in handy.
APIs are the perfect tool to make legacy systems work with the latest technologies in perfect harmony. API can help organizations to integrate new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation without having to update their systems. Systems are the building blocks, and the APIs are the ones which connect them with the modern technologies so that a company may run new operations toe to toe with the latest trends in a flexible way.
Wrapping It Up
With the help of APIs, organizations, be it corporate or government, are harnessing the true power of data. A seamless connection between different ecosystems is making it possible for companies to make secure and informed decisions towards progress and innovation.
APIs are the assurance of a future proof business; it is through the versatility of API development that businesses are now transforming digitally and progressing towards their newly set goals.
Tahha Ashraf is a Digital Brand Manager at a popular digital agency. He loves chipping in creativity and ideas that are worth execution. He loves to build brand persona and strategies that are poised to skyrocket the brand’s success. He writes and read poetry in his free time.