Application Programming Interface (API)

API stands for application programming interface, which is a set of definitions and protocols for building and integrating application software. An API enables data transmission between one software product and another and contains the terms of this data exchange.

Application programming interfaces consist of two components:

  • Technical specification describing the data exchange options between solutions with the specification done in the form of a request for processing and data delivery protocols
  • Software interface written to the specification that represents it

API release policies can be private, partner or public

Private APIs. These application software interfaces are designed for improving solutions and services within an organization. In-house developers or contractors may use these APIs to integrate a company’s IT systems or applications, build new systems or customer-facing apps leveraging existing systems. Even if apps are publicly available, the interface itself remains available only for those working directly with the API publisher. The private strategy allows a company to fully control the API usage.

Partner APIs. Partner APIs are openly promoted but shared with business partners who have signed an agreement with the publisher. The common use case for partner APIs is software integration between two parties. A company that grants partners with access to data or capability benefits from extra revenue streams. At the same time, it can monitor how the exposed digital assets are used, ensure whether third-party solutions using their APIs provide decent user experience, and maintain corporate identity in their apps.

Public APIs. Also known as developer-facing or external, these APIs are available for any third-party developers. A public API program allows for increasing brand awareness and receiving an additional source of income when properly executed.

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