API stands for Application Programming Interface. APIs are sets of requirements that govern how one application can talk to the other through clearly defined methods and requests. A simple way to think about it is: if IQ tests measure your intelligence, then APIs would measure how well different applications and software talk to each other.
APIs have been around for a long time, but they became mainstream only in the last couple years with all the mobile apps we see today. With these apps, more people are using data from multiple sources more often than ever before, which means more companies are building APIs all over the place. Some of them share these new tools with others outside their company walls, while others keep everything locked up inside their enterprise.
For example, let’s say you work for a company that sells concert tickets. There are apps on the market that people use to check out showtimes and buy tickets, but your company would like their own app with all of their inventory in it. To do this without an API is pretty difficult. You’d have to find every existing website that sells concert tickets, negotiate with them one at a time, then copy and paste code into your own system for each source so there was no downtime when you wanted to launch your product. This is obviously not very efficient or scalable.
APIs give you the ability to talk to multiple systems at once with less effort than what we just described above. For example, if you were creating an API for ticket sales, you could create one endpoint for fetching available inventory and another end point to check out all sold out tickets. Others would be able to freely use your data as long as they abided by your terms, which means those who violate them could be blocked from using the service.
APIs are only as good as the information that goes in and out of them though. If a system has bad or inaccurate data, then APIs will have issues too because they rely on having worthy information at their fingertips. Research shows that even a 1% error rate can cause businesses to lose $40 million a year – so it’s important not to take these things lightly!
The main goal of APIs is to help people save time and money by doing what is called “develop once, deploy many times.” Theoretically, if someone created an app that people liked using they could then spread this technology over to other industries too. This seamless integration has proven to have enormous value for companies who are operating in the cloud.
For example, you might have seen an app on your phone that lets you check out at a store without waiting in line? This is because of APIs being used by multiple organizations to speed up the buying process for their customers! Uber does it with taxis, AirBnB does it with hotels and so forth… So APIs really do hold the potential to connect all forms of commerce together.
There is another big benefit you can get from APIs though: if you’re working on something that you want to sell later, then APIs can help you do that too! If you build a special piece of software (known as an application) and it becomes popular for people to use, then you’re basically building your own business because once people like what they see, they’ll buy it if it’s available.
Let’s say you created an app that shows how many Facebook friends are online at any given time; not only would this be useful for Facebook users but also businesses who might like to target these individuals with promotions. It could make them money! Once the app was finished though, the creator would have no way to distribute or monetize his creation without having someone else host it or selling licenses… both of which take time.
APIs enable the creator to skip the wait because once he builds his app, all he needs to do is slap it on an API server and then share that URL with others so they can use it in their own apps! If you have a product that has any value or brings in revenue, APIs are almost essential when you want to drive up profits even further. They give your customers what they need while leaving money for you too instead of dividing everything 50/50 like most companies would require… It’s a win-win solution.