What is web API? Why is API used commonly?

 2020-10-01

What is web API? Why is API used commonly?
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Nowadays, API generally and Web API are mainly applied more and more. Modern app architecture has been decentralized, language-independent has driven the application of APIs. So what is an API? What are its origin and advantages?

What is the API?

API is methods, protocols connecting with libraries and other apps. It is shortened from Application Programming Interface. API provides the ability to access a set of frequently used functions. And from there, it is possible to exchange data between applications.

Where does the API usually apply?

  • Web API: is an API system used on the website system. Most of the websites are applied to Web API allowing you to access, get data and update data. For example, you can design login functions via Google, Facebook, Twitter, Github, etc., which means you are using API. Or like those apps get data via API.
  • API on the operating system:  Windows or Linux has several APIs. They provide API documents specifying functions, methods, and communication protocols. It enables programmers to create software applications that can interact directly with the operating system.
  • API of framework or software libraries: API describes and specifies those requirements that libraries provide. An API can deploy alternatively, and it also makes it possible for a program written in one language to use a library written in another. For example, you can use Php to request a PDF creation library written in C ++. 

Other definitions:

  • API currently complies with  REST and HTTP standards, creates a friendly use for developers. They are helping users easier to access and understand. Modern Web APIs are intended for specific objects, such as mobile developers with different documents and versions.
  • API key: This is a kind of code (string) transmitted by a computer program called API to identify programs, developers, and users use it to the website. API keys are used to control API usage, such as preventing API abuse.

The API Key usually acts as a unique identifier and secret token for authentication, and there will usually be a set of API permissions associated with it. API Keys can be based on a globally unique identifier (UUID) system to ensure they will be unique to each user.

What is Web API?

API là gì? Những đặc điểm nổi bật của Web API | TopDev

Web API is a method for different apps to communicate, exchange data. Data is returned by Web API in the form of JSON or XML via HTTP or HTTPS.

Those highlights of Web API

Web API fully supports restful methods: Get/Post/put/delete data. It helps you build HTTP services simply and quickly and also fully support HTTP components: URI, request/response headers, caching, versioning, content format.

Product automation

With the web API, we will automate workflow management, update workflow, increase productivity and create higher work efficiency.

Flexible integration

API allows getting content from any website or app quickly if it is allowed, increasing UX. API operates as a portal, allowing companies to share selected information while avoiding unwanted requests.

Real-time information updates

API can change and update in real-time. Thanks to this technology, data will be transmitted, more accurate information and more flexible service provision.

General standards that’s easy to use

Any user, company using can change contents, services they want to use.

Fully support MVC components: routing, controller, action result, filter, model binder, IoC container, dependency injection, unit test.

How does Web API operate?

  • The first is building URL API so the third parties can send data requests to hosts providing content, service via HTTP hoặc HTTPS.
  • The web server provides content, and source apps will perform validation checks, if any, and find the appropriate resource to create content that returns results.
  • The server gives results in the form of JSON or XML via HTTP/HTTPS.
  • At the initial requirement is the web or mobile application, the JSON / XML data will be parsed for the data. After having data, it continues to perform operations such as saving data to the database, displaying data, etc.

The pros and cons of Web API

Every app has pros and cons which makes web API no exception:

  1. The pros

  • Web API is used mostly on desktop, mobile, and website apps.
  • Flexible with data formats when returned to the client: Json, XML, or another format.
  • Quickly build HTTP services: URIs, request/response headers, caching, versioning, content formats, and can be hosted in either application or IIS.
  • Open-source, support full RESTful functionality, used by any client that supports XML, Json.
  • Full support for MVC components such as routing, controller, action result, filter, model binder, IoC container, dependency injection, unit test.
  • Two-way communication is confirmed in transactions, ensuring high reliability.
  1. The cons

Since the web API is still entirely new, it is impossible to evaluate the cons of this model. However, there are some apparent cons:

  • Web API is not entirely a RESTful service, and it only supports GET, POST by default.
  • Effective use requires in-depth knowledge and a good backend experience.
  • Waste of time and money on development, upgrades, and operations.
  • There may be security problems when the system is under attack if the conditions are not limited.

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