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Tech Terminology: API

Tech Terminology: API

It is said that software runs the world, but it wouldn’t necessarily be so without the ability to integrate applications with others. What exactly makes these integrations possible? For this week’s tech term, we will briefly introduce you to the application programming interface, or API; and, why it's so crucial in software development today.

When people talk about an application’s API, they often mean a web-based interface that returns data, but the API is actually just the code that governs the access point or points for the server. In fact, all an API does is facilitate the ability to get data from outside sources. It is effectively a door into a software.

For the developer, the API is a way for their software to communicate with other pieces of software. This could have a myriad of uses. For example, if the database your application needs is structured outside of your development platform an API will allow developers to have a way to call on data from the database for use within the software they are developing.

This allows developers to use data from other applications to integrate two pieces of software. Ever wonder why your favorite news site lets you sign in using your Facebook account? It’s because the developer of the news site uses the Facebook API to provide access to the content you are trying to access.

The API is therefore extremely important for mobile application development. In fact, an API is one of a mobile application developer’s most crucial tools as it allows them to:

  • Accelerate app development - An API allows developers to eliminate wasting time building specific integration methods.
  • Increase an app’s functionality - An API provides access to data from other applications.
  • Grow the app’s market - Tools with more integrations are more apt to be used.

Now you have a cursory understanding of what it means when you hear someone talk about an application’s API. For more great content designed to help you better understand the technology you use every day, subscribe to our blog.

 

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