An API, also known as Application Programming Interface, is an important facet of programming and developing software today, especially for solutions released online or stored in the cloud. An API works by allowing 2 machines or applications to communicate with one another, resulting in the ability to deliver services and individual pieces of software to users anywhere in the world.
As the web accepts thousands of new APIs annually, Open APIs have become more prevalent than ever. Understanding Open API development can help you to determine which solutions are optimal to empower your business with seamless integration and collaboration solutions.
What is an open API?
Once familiar with the basics of traditional API development, you can expand your knowledge to open APIs, also known as public APIs. Open APIs represent the ability of programmers to designate universal access to developed applications for all consumers and clients. These APIs are designed to share applications without risking the exposure of their source code. In other words, open APIs are extremely useful, allowing access to the core functions of a piece of software or application without putting development at risk.
The OpenAPI specification (formerly known as the Swagger specification) defines a language-agnostic interface that permits connection and communication between applications and humans. API specifications allow access to a particular application or software without exposing or exploiting its source code. Understanding the basic open API meaning can help you choose the right path for developing your software or application.
When it comes to APIs, it's highly advisable to familiarize yourself with the 2 types of APIs that are most common: REST and SOAP. RESTful APIs are web services developed to use URLs and HTTP methods to interact with surrounding websites and resources. Open API, on the other hand, is optimal for creating and designing the actual RESTful APIs themselves.
SOAP APIs are known as robust solutions, often requiring more bandwidth and providing complex setup solutions. When using the SOAP approach, it's important to keep in mind that the process is not only highly structured but also utilizes XML data. If you're in search of a more customizable and flexible solution, choosing the RESTful API route is highly recommended. RESTful APIs are more flexible, less structured, and lightweight.
Once you choose which API route is right for you, it's best to familiarize yourself with API keys. API keys act as a unique identifier and help authenticate a user's access to a program or software. API keys are essential to understand before getting started with APIs in any capacity.