An application programming interface, or API for short, is something that many businesses are implementing on their websites. An API is a software intermediary that allows 2 or more applications to simultaneously communicate with each other. For example, if you are on your primary doctor’s website and would like to schedule an appointment with them, you may see an option to create the appointment and add it to your own personal Google calendar all in one step.
The fact that you can do this is made possible through the use of APIs. The API is what connects the doctor’s website, and your own personal Google calendar, and schedules the appointment accordingly.
As businesses are just now fully understanding the true potential of APIs, the implementation of this technology is starting to be seen more often in order to help them with projects. However, this does not mean that API use is limited to businesses, individuals can use them as well.
It’s fairly obvious that using an API for a project is a great idea, but deciding on which one to use may not be so obvious. In this article, I will be discussing the four different types of APIs, so that you can decide which one is the best option for your own personal project.
SOAP APIs were designed in 1988 primarily for Microsoft. They allow operating system programs to communicate with other programs by using an XML payload. Although these types of APIs can be used across different protocols, they do require a SOAP client to build and receive different requests. Therefore, this type of API is probably not the best type to use for a personal project.
This API type is essentially a set of implementations that allow procedure calls over the internet. You would have to spend a lot of time going through documentation in order to use this type of APIs because they require the user to know the procedure name, as well as the order of parameters. Therefore, if you are not familiar with APIs, or do not want to spend time learning the required information, these type of APIs are not for you.
These type of APIs are typically used with HTTP and are one of the most popular choices for API development. This category of APIs are capable of handling multiple types of calls, can change structurally if need be, and can also return various types of different data formats. For example, Shipping APIs are a type of REST APIs that fall under this category. If you purchase something online and would like to know when it is going to be arriving at your doorstep, shipping APIs will provide you with a fast and accurate answer.
In summary, there are four different types of APIs, and each has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each API will help you better determine which one is best for your personal project.