api

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Definition

API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is used to describe any technology setup that enables two different software systems to communicate.

Application programming interfaces are made up of two parts: A technical specification outlining how to use or build a mediating solution system for communication between systems. A software interface developed following the specification.

Use Cases and Examples

Servers are very powerful computers. Some have high computing power as well as ample storage capacities. Compare this to a mobile device, and it's far behind when it comes to these capabilities. However, mobile devices are portable and readily available to many people.

Take a platform like Facebook. It connects billions of people across the world. Imagine if most of the photos your friends share were all stored on your phone. The app will end up unusable.

So to benefit from the portability of the phone and leverage the power of computers, Facebook engineers use APIs to retrieve any information you might need from a server instead of storing everything your friends send onto your phone.

Another example is flight comparison sites using APIs to get data from different airlines and providing software solutions to help users compare them.

Summary

APIs have become the backbone of modern software growth, enabling one system to connect the other presents endless opportunities.

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