What is an API key?
An application programming interface (API) key is a unique code that validates user identities and provides a unique identifier or authentication token.
It's easy to create them using API software that automates code generation, including the incorporation of tags you can use to segment users for marketing and other purposes.
An API key regulates API requests between programs, and they are common in Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications.
For example, you can generate Google or YouTube API keys through a key generator. Project API keys allow you to reject calls or API requests from unknown or unauthorized projects.
Applications use the designated API to identify the program, developer, or user requesting access to a website or application.
This process greatly facilitates open development and comes with a number of bells and whistles useful for marketing purposes.
Additionally, there are many tools available that greatly simplify key creation and management.
API keys are essential for many modern applications and services, but for those unfamiliar with the concept, they can be a bit confusing.
Whether you are a developer who is just getting started with APIs or a business owner looking to implement API keys into your platform, this guide will provide you with the foundational knowledge you need to get started.
How do API keys work?
APIs require a key before allowing developers to make requests. The developer's website gives you the information you need to get started. So, it’s essential to read the rules and apply them appropriately.
Typically, you sign up for an account and register your project along with any information requested by the API administrators.
Once your API request is processed, you receive a specific API key in the form of randomly generated characters tied to your project.
In some cases, you'll receive two keys, a public key and a private key. You can share public keys with customers and collaborators.
It has limited API access rights to data stored in the API but you should still pick and choose who to share it with. Private keys provide access to your data and developer account. You should only share them with key developers.
Hackers would love to take advantage of sloppy coding to swipe your server API key and wreak havoc with your application.
It's important to become familiar with the API documentation to understand how to include keys in requests for data. For example, you can create tags, or metadata labels, that allow you to segment or identify project API keys and users who access your website.
How can you use tags to segment and track your clients? Examples of tag keys include departmental identifiers such as “CostCenter” or “Project.” When coding, developers should keep in mind that these tags are case-sensitive.
Types of API keys
There are two types of API keys, private and public.