Not meant to be technical, but a fun-simple explanation.
If you have been around cryptos you must have read or heard about API. Understanding the basics can only add to a successful experience in the cryptocurrency community. And by the end of this I guarantee you will understand what it is.
API Application Programming Interface
In ter fa ce;
1) a point where two systems, subjects, organizations, etc., meet and interact.
2) a device or program enabling a user to communicate with a computer.
3) interact with (another system, person, organization, etc.).
This is an example of an interface, you can see all the icons, and if you were to click on any of them, they would connect you to whatever it is you may be requesting. When you click you are making a request and receiving a response back: connectivity. The middle-man doing the job of receiving, delivering and bringing you back a response is the API. We are so used to connectivity in our days we do not even realize how it actually works.
“In the same way that a program like Solitaire waits for you to click on a card to do something, a web server runs a program that waits for a person to ask it for a web page.” –Zapier.com
APIs they interact through a program to applications, an interface used by programs to interact with applications. No, they are not a programming language. They “deliver” the language per se, through a program to a system.
Connectivity: APIs. When one web connects to another it sends out the information through the API that carries useful information from one point to another. I saw this little story told by MuleSoft Videos, and they describe APIs as a waiter. Waiters take the orders from the table, from the costumer, to the kitchen, to the person that will be making their food. And then they pick up the food from the kitchen and deliver it to the table, correct? Notice the waiter is not carrying information of its own, it is not producing the actual food, but he is CONNECTING one thing to another and without him there would be no food, no services, no back and forth connection. APIs are like the middle-men of the internet.
Connectivity between different devices, data, websites can only be done through APIs. They are the little guys you don’t see but are doing the hard work under the hood.
APIs only take orders you request, they do not do anything of their own but are extremely important. Just like a waiter, always ready to promptly respond: you ask, they collect information, and deliver it to the system and comes back with an answer. When you click on anything to fetch information on the web, pin, search, purchase, post…the messenger between your requests and the response you get is done through an API.
“When one website needs to talk to another website for information, that’s an API. When someone builds an app and doesn’t want to start by scratch, that’s an API. When you ask a website for information and the answer is fetched for you, that’s an API working.” — Danielle Thé
API’s are always communicating.
Each web has their own API, maybe several to different accesses, like for logins, for maps, comments, browser, etc. Google for example, if you go to their website you will be able to find google maps API, which is very famous and used by many other websites like Yelp for instance.
There are many websites you will be able to find their available APIs, which many people who do not want to build their own APIs from scratch, will use or borrow to create their own apps or in their own pages. They may collect different APIs from different pages, put them all together and TA DA!
Now, when you use YELP.COM for example, they use Google’s Map API. But you might be wondering why would google and other top-notch companies make a fragment of their APIs available for others to use? What’s in it for them? Well there’s much. Every time you use any app that uses a fragment of their API they are able to collect your data too. So, now not only Yelp is collecting your data, but so is google.
Whenever you visit a website, and it gives you the option to sign in using Facebook, twitter, your Gmail, etc.… those are all APIs. It takes a lot of work for software developers to put APIs together, so for many it is much easier to just “borrow” and for others the data in exchange makes it worth.
Here is an example: When you click on Publish, it is ready to take your request, your information and create a post, creating a response: it has been posted!
That’s an API. Not the publish button per se, but the “little man” under the button that receives the request once you press that button, did I make sense? The API receives the request, in this case to publish, it collects the information to be published to give it to the system which will perform and send a response back to you and the API will deliver it back to you. Yes?
API in cryptocurrency: Without API’s blockchain system would not work, blockchain today has several APIs all for different functionalities. Blockchain data, receiving payments, blockchain wallet are some of the examples of APIs which cryptocurrency depends upon simply because it depends on blockchain and blockchain would be nothing without the connectivity of APIs.
You might be interested in our blog post “CRYPTOCURRENCY BASICS”