API – Application Programming Interface

API – Definition

An API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of defined functions and methods for interfacing with the underlying operating system or another program or service running on the computer.

In general terms, it is a set of clearly defined methods of communication between various software components.

An API may be for a web-based system, operating system, database system, computer hardware or software library.

Documentation for the API is usually provided to facilitate usage.

Example Usage

Example scenario: Your small business’s website has a form used to sign clients up for appointments. You want to give your clients the ability to automatically create a Google calendar event with the details for that appointment.

API use: The idea is to have your website’s server talk directly to Google’s server with a request to create an event with the given details. Your server would then receive Google’s response, process it, and send back relevant information to the browser, such as a confirmation message to the user.

Alternatively, your browser can often send an API request directly to Google’s server bypassing your server.

See Also

Text Messaging APIs

Postcode APIs