What is API? Quick guide to an Application Programming Interface


Application programming interface often refers to a software intermediary that enables two applications to communicate with each other. In other words, it is the mechanism that allows interaction between two applications by use of a set of rules. API integrations happen when a particular application requires access to data (or rather information) stored by another application. On the other hand, connecting to an API may occur where a single application requires services from a different application. Often, connecting to API integrates software rather than users. However, in cases where user interactions are held, an application tends to take the user interface widget and display it.

Why are API integrations important?

APIs are important, as they allow standardization as well as simplification of data for the sake of users. A good example is WordPress enabling bloggers to place their Instagram handles at the sidebar of their blogs using Instagram's API. Factually, every time one happens to use an application like Twitter, check the weather, or send messages on their mobile phones, connecting to API is required.

How does API integrate?

You might be wondering how the data is sent. How does API integrate with other software? Worry not, I will give you a simple illustration. Once you open an application on your phone, it connects to the Internet and proceeds to send data to a server. Once it is retrieved, the data is interpreted by the server before necessary action is performed. A response is sent back to your phone where the application interprets it and presents the information you intended to receive in a readable form.

The most common types of APIs

First and foremost, we must acknowledge the four main types of web APIs. They include:

1. Composite Application Programming Interface

This kind of API is involved in combining various data as well as service APIs. It happens to be a series of tasks that run synchronously due to a result of the execution and rather not at times when a task is requested. In addition, its major function is to hasten the process of execution as well as improve the performance level of web interfaces' listeners.

2. Internal Application Programming Interface

They are also referred to as private APIs. Internal systems happen to be the only ones that can expose this kind of API thus suggesting that they are less known to others outside the system. Most companies use it within their premises to boost the quality of their products and services.

3. Partner Application Programming Interface

Programming API of this kind requires one to have explicit rights or rather licenses to access. The reason behind it is their unavailability to members of the public.

4. Open Application Programming Interface

There are no restrictions to connecting to an API of this type as it is available for the public to use.

Besides the main web APIs, there are also common types of web service APIs which include:


XML is the initialization of Extensible Markup Language and is a flexible text format meant for the creation of structured computer documents in a machine-readable form. XML-RPC, therefore, is a protocol that uses an explicit XML format to convey data compared to SOAP which uses a proprietary format of XML. Unarguably, it is older than the Simple Object Access Protocol. Also, XML-RPC is simpler compared to SOAP and uses a minimum bandwidth. For instance:



Although this protocol is quite similar to XML-RPC, it uses JPSON format rather than XML format to transmit data. For example, {"firstName":"Ivy"},


SOAP is a protocol that tends to use XML format to transmit data. Its main purpose is to define the way of communication as well as the configuration of the message. In addition, it uses Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) in a machine-readable document to post its interface definition


Unlike other web services, REST is not a protocol but rather a set of architectural principles. Its services ought to have certain features that include using the interface to manipulate resources as well as simple interfaces that are resources identified with ease within the request.

 Difference between XML and JSON

  1. XML supports different types of data such as images, graphs, charts, numbers, and text among others while JSON supports numbers and texts only.
  2. While XML has low security, JSON has more.
  3. XML often concentrates on documents while JSON mainly focuses on data.

 Difference between SOAP and REST

  1. While SOAP is driven by function, data is what drives REST.
  2. While REST permits developers to easily create recommendations as there are loose procedures to follow, SOAP has precise rules as well as advanced security for developers to follow.

 Significance of creating an API for your business

Discussions on APIs tend to be technical due to their nature. This is because they are considered more helpful to engineers as well as data managers. However, the act of programming API is equally beneficial to the business sector. It boosts the income level generated from business as well as helps organizations achieve various goals. Some of the benefits conferred to the business sector by creating an API are discussed below.

APIs create new streams of monetization

Often, the creation of stable as well as dependable monetization streams is the ultimate goal of every business premise. What most people fail to understand is creating an API offers direct routes to brand streams of monetization. Notably, programming API enhances authentication as well as authorization to safeguard reachability to its functionality. Therefore, from a business perspective, that kind of access may be as well accompanied by a certain amount of charges hence generating income for the business.

The key point here is that business data considered to be of high quality may be monetization as a function on a large scale. Programming API and access charges may end up being a stream of revenue that is predictable. One can integrate pay-per-module plans and free trials into their API's functionality. A perfect and practical example happens to be 3Scales which offers good monetization streams providing many options that include function pricing as well as trials among others. Therefore, it is a perfect illustration of monetization driven by the implementation of an API.

Enhance innovation

Factually innovation plays a significant role in boosting business performance. Most thriving companies ensure that they make their innovation on one or more APIs. These include Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Facebook, among others. Advertisement is enabled by such APIs, thus ensuring that they reach distant markets. Isn't it obvious evidence to prove that APIs are crucial in enhancing the innovation process?

APIs act as doors to reach the outside world

APIs are doorways to almost all talented personnel in the entrepreneurship structure. Compilation of all those talents helps to improve business performance and solve unfamiliar problems. Also, opportunities may readily present themselves for the benefit of the business once third parties are reachable.

Help in process automation

Usually, automation processes bring forth massive savings considering expense, time, and effort. Business Process Integration (BPI), as well as Business Process Automation (BPA), are, thereby, effective strategies that assist in cost saving. Often, this automation involves integrating applications as well as programming. As a result, this brings about API management that influences certain fields in the business, including workflows, analytics, data as well as product and service development, among others.

It assists in meeting regulatory compliance

Ultimately, APIs happen to be the simplest as well as cost-effective measure to ensure major business elements are implemented, especially when it comes to regulatory compliance. Most service providers are at times in situations that subject them to strict regulations requiring them to seek methodologies to meet them. For instance, the European Union business operations are faced with strict standards of data protection controlled by the EU Data Protection Directive. The creation of a proper way of securing data transmission depends on the ability to propagate effective standards to every element of one's business. Unarguably, APIs assist to accomplish all this in a much easier way for long-term benefits.

APIs provide a good tool for competition in the business industry

Occasionally, what one does better than others in business is what sets them apart and makes them outshine the rest. Therefore, having a competitive advantage will surely ensure that the business gets boosted. How do you ensure a competitive advantage over others? Becoming competitive will entail ensuring an awesome experience for all users at all levels. All these experiences may not only be delivered effectively but also optimized by the use of an API.

APIs improve the experience with end users

Did you know that one can boost user experience through direct-controlled actions by simply using an API? APIs when adopted make the business provide better service to users of their products. They also allow for a highly tailored experience that is easily customizable.

APIs help to standardize communication with partners

Notably, it is almost impossible to find two partners that are the same, especially in situations involving high stakes of revenue where proper briefing and communication are necessary. Therefore, adopting API-centric criteria of communication helps to improve interaction and maintain a good relationship between partners. Interaction and adaptation in business tend to come slowly and are associated with an increased cost at every stage.

Challenges faced by firms when developing APIs

  1. There is a lack of an active developer community acting as a source of feedback on features and the design of an API.
  2. Organizations that are dependent on aged legacy systems face difficulties when trying to add modern APIs. This particular problem can be solved by point-to-point integrations. However, such systems are more likely to fail thus ending up affecting partners as well as customers adversely. As a result, valuable resources are wasted.
  3. Mostly, financial service firms face difficulty when it comes to accessing ample tools for designing, testing as well as monitoring APIs.

Sailing Byte - creating an API has never been easier 

As Sailing Byte, we are in a good position to design, create, secure, monitor and manage APIs. We offer business organizations a wide range of services ensuring implementation solutions for integration as well as the development of APIs. We guarantee instant connectivity as well as API integrations to popular financial services as well as applications. Also, we ensure constant consultation with service developers so that programming API for our esteemed clients is performed to the highest standards. Our main goal is to ensure that we readily avail tools that facilitate sharing of adequate information throughout systems, services, and applications. All the solutions we present to organizations provide connectivity that enables them to unlock their data and systems thus ensuring that the APIs they create are powerful. Interesting, right? Work with us! We will ensure that those APIs scale high enough to meet enterprise requirements. Click 'schedule time for meeting' below to book your consultation.




Łukasz Pawłowski

CEO of Sailing Byte

I am running Sailing Byte - a Software House that focuses on Laravel and React, but doesn't constrain to it; we have also done projects using C#, Unity, Flutter, SwiftUI and other. My role is to organize and deliver software using Agile methods - by providing experience and technical knowledge and proper set of tools to cooperate with our clients.

During our journey I have met all kind of great people, who also took part in our success - both our clients and business partners who are part of our success and who also helped us to elevate Sailing Byte as polish software house, that is providing quality development not only in eastern Europe, but also UK and USA.

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