API: What are Application Programming Interfaces and how to use them?

An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a way of communication between various software components. It is a method in which applications give access to their data in a structured way, without the need of interacting with the user interface.

Basically, someone creates a software and gives you access to parts of it via an API.


Different types of APIs

Open APIs

Open APIs are APIs that are publicly available to any user.

It is also called public APIs which are available to any other users. Open APIs help external users to access the data and services. It is an open-source application programming interface in which we access with HTTP protocols. 

Examples: Wikipedia API, Reddit API

Internal APIs

Internal APIs are private APIs used by organisations to let applications communicate with each other.

Examples of internal APIs: Google Apps interacting with Knowledge Graph

Composite APIs

Composite APIS are APIs that allow web developers to call multiple endpoints in one call.

Examples of composite APIS: shopping cart requiring multiple APIs for each feature

Partner APIs

Partners APIs are APIs requiring the developer to have specific rights or licenses in order to access. Partner APIs are not available to the public.

Examples of partner APIs: LinkedIn API, Google Search Console API, Twitter API, Reddit API, Facebook API, Slack API, Google Analytics API, Google Ads API, Google My Business API


API Architectures and Protocols

REST

REST APIs, also known as Restful APIs, are web apis that conform to the requirements of REST architectural style and allow for interaction with RESTful web services.

RPC

RPC APIs, also known as Remote Procedure Call, APIs are the simplest types of API. There are two main types of RPC APIs.

SOAP

SOAP APIs, also known as Simple Object Access Protocol APIs, uses the XML format to define the structure of the communication.


Example of APIs

There are so many APIs out there to count. The APIs I use the most are:

  1. Google APIs (Search Console API, Analytics API, YouTube API, Sheets API, Google Maps API, Knowledge Graph API, Pagespeed API)
  2. Social Media APIs (Reddit API, Facebook API, LinkedIn API, Twitter API)
  3. Business Sharing APIs: Slack API, Gmail API
  4. Content APIs: Wikipedia API, News API, Jobs API, Exchange rate API
  5. Other Marketing APIs: SEMRush API, Ahrefs API, Archive.org API, Yoast SEO API

How to Use APIs in Python

You can use Python to interact with various APIs. Here are a few tutorials that we’ve built for you.

Google Search Console API

Reddit API

Facebook API

Linkedin API

Slack API


Conclusion

Don’t stop there. APIs offer a lot of opportunities and once you get the hang of it, they become quite easy to implement.

There are many interesting open APIs available out there, please share any interesting work that you have done with an API with me.