Types of APIs
In this section, you will learn about the different types of APIs with their examples.
What are the different types of APIs?
To gain a deeper understanding of APIs, let's delve further into some common types of APIs with examples:
Web APIs: These APIs, often grounded in HTTP and RESTful principles, empower web-based applications to communicate efficiently. Here are 5 of the most common types of web APIs:
RESTful APIs: REST (Representational State Transfer) is a widely adopted architectural style for designing networked applications. RESTful APIs are known for their simplicity and scalability. They use standard HTTP methods like GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE for data exchange. Example: A weather application uses a RESTful API to fetch real-time weather data for a user's location, providing accurate forecasts and current conditions.
GraphQL APIs: GraphQL is a flexible query language for APIs that allows clients to request precisely the data they need and nothing more. Unlike REST, where the server defines the response structure, GraphQL allows clients to specify their data requirements. Example: A modern application may utilize a GraphQL API to fetch user-specific data, such as profiles and posts, based on client-specified queries.
JSON-RPC APIs: JSON-RPC is a protocol for remote procedure calls encoded in JSON. JSON-RPC APIs enable remote method invocation in a simple and lightweight manner. They are often used for building web-based services and applications. Example: A cryptocurrency exchange platform might implement a JSON-RPC API to enable trading operations and retrieve market data.
XML-RPC APIs: XML-RPC is another protocol for remote procedure calls, but it uses XML as its encoding format. XML-RPC APIs allow programs to make remote calls over the internet and are suitable for web-based applications as well as other distributed systems. Example: Legacy systems may still use XML-RPC APIs for various purposes, including data synchronization and communication between different systems.
SOAP APIs: SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is a protocol for exchanging structured information in web services. SOAP APIs use XML for message formatting and are commonly used in enterprise-level applications. They offer features like message integrity and security. Example: Enterprise systems often employ SOAP APIs for secure and reliable communication, especially when strict data integrity is required.
System APIs: Behind the scenes, system APIs act as the silent architects, facilitating communication between applications and the underlying operating systems, hardware, and firmware. Example: The Windows API is a collection of functions and procedures that enable applications to interact with the Windows operating system. For instance, a graphical user interface (GUI) application uses system APIs to create windows, buttons, and menus, providing the user with a seamless experience.
Library APIs: Library APIs grant applications access to the functionalities and capabilities of external software libraries, saving developers time and effort. Example: Python developers often use the Requests library, which provides an API for sending HTTP requests and handling responses. For instance, you can use it to retrieve data from a web server by sending a GET request.
Class APIs: Class APIs are like instruction manuals for programming tools, guiding developers on how to use and interact with them safely and effectively in a software program. They're crucial for organizing and maintaining secure code. Example: In Java, the ArrayList class has a set of instructions (API) for managing lists. It helps developers easily add, remove, and change items in a list within their programs.
While each type of API boasts unique characteristics, our primary focus in this course will revolve around web APIs.