What is an API? | Application Programming Interface Explained

what is api

Whether you’re a budding coder, a tech aficionado, or just curious about how your favorite apps work seamlessly together, understanding APIs is your ticket to a deeper appreciation of the magic behind the screens and the connectivity we have with the digital world. Let’s uncover all about APIs in the ever-evolving landscape of technology. 

What is an API? Explained

API stands for Application Programming Interfaces, which serve as vital communication bridges between two operating systems, utilizing a well-defined set of rules and protocols. The term API may also refer to the user interface associated with an application written with low-level programming languages.

how does api works

Consider the interaction between the operating systems as a form of a request from one another. Through the use of APIs, two distinct systems seamlessly converse, enabling your app to access and display the latest weather updates.

The advancements in API technology have contributed to the increasing use of microservices. These are small, loosely coupled services that are accessible through public APIs, offering more flexibility and scalability in software development.

What is API Management?

API management platform involves more than just creating a space for API connections within enterprise and multi-cloud environments. It offers a scalable, cohesive platform that allows businesses to distribute and market their API configurations and software components effectively.

This method also encompasses controlling access, tracking and assessing usage statistics, and enforcing appropriate security measures.

Check Top 14 Top API Management Tools for 2024

What are API integrations?

API integrations are refer to software elements designed to facilitate automatic data exchanges between clients and servers. A common instance of this is the automatic synchronization of images from your phone’s gallery to cloud storage.

Similarly, when you travel across time zones, your laptop’s time and date settings adjust automatically through these integrations. In a business context, enterprises use APIs to streamline and automate numerous system operations effectively.

Here are the top software solutions for API integration: from no-code to low-code.


Zapier is a user-friendly, no-code API integration tool known for its ease of use and wide range of integrations. It allows users to automate workflows between over 3,000 apps without requiring coding skills.

Key Features
  1. No-Code Interface: Simplifies the creation of automated workflows, known as Zaps.
  2. Wide App Integration: Supports over 3,000 apps for diverse automation possibilities.
  3. Customizable Workflows: Users can tailor triggers and actions to their specific needs.
  1. Free Plan: Limited to 100 tasks per month and single-step Zaps.
  2. Starter Plan: $19.99/month (annually), with 750 tasks, filters and formatted along with multi-step Zaps.
  3. Professional Plan: $49/month (annually), offering 2,000 tasks, autoreplay, custom logic with Paths, and access to premium apps.
  4. Team Plan: $69/month (annually), offering 2k tasks, unlimited users, premier support, shared app connections and live chat support.
  5. Company Plan: Advanced admin permissions, SAML single sign on (SSO), and Custom data retention along with all premium features of Team Plan.

Make (formerly known as Integromat) is a robust low-code tool for API integration, offering advanced capabilities for automating workflows. It’s designed to cater to both technical and non-technical users, providing a visual editor for creating complex integrations.

Key Features
  1. Low-Code Platform: Make enables the creation of complex workflows with minimal coding, making it accessible to non-technical users while still flexible for those with technical expertise.
  2. Visual Workflow Editor: Offers a visual interface for building integrations and automation, allowing users to easily visualize and manage workflows.
  3. Advanced Automation Capabilities: Supports complex, multi-step integrations and provides tools for data manipulation and transformation within workflows.
  4. Extensive App Integration: Connects with a wide array of apps and services, enabling users to automate tasks across different platforms.
  1. Free Plan: $0.00/month, offering 1,000 operations per month with a no-code visual workflow builder.
  2. Core: $9.00/month (billed annually), providing 10,000 operations per month. Includes unlimited active scenarios, a minimum 1-minute interval between scheduled scenario executions, and access to the Make API.
  3. Pro: $16.00/month (billed annually), with 10,000 tasks per month. Features everything in Core, plus custom variables, scenario inputs, full-text execution log search, operations usage flexibility, and priority scenario execution.
  4. Teams: $99/month (billed annually), offering 10,000 tasks per month. Includes everything in Pro, plus support for multiple teams and permissions, high-priority scenario execution, and the ability to create and share scenario templates.

Pabbly offers a variety of integration and automation solutions, notably through its Pabbly Connect service. This platform is designed to streamline and automate tasks and workflows, connecting over 1000 apps for various functionalities.

Key Features of Pabbly Connect:
  1. Wide Range of Integrations: Integrates with over 1000 apps, allowing for diverse automation capabilities across different platforms.
  2. No-Code Automation: Provides a user-friendly, no-code interface for setting up automated workflows.
  3. Advanced Automation Options: Includes features like multi-step calls, formatters, scheduling, email parsing, and more, enabling complex workflow automation.
  1. Pabbly Plus Standard Plan: Priced at $49 per month allowing up to 24,000 tasks per month, 15000 email marketing subscribers, 3 Forms Builder, and 1000 credits per month for email verification.
  2. Pabbly Plus Pro Plan: Costs $99 per month with up to 50,000 tasks per month, 30000 email marketing subscribers, 6 Forms Builder, and 5000 credits per month for email verification.
  3. Pabbly Plus Ultimate Plan: At $199 per month, this plan offers up to 100,000 tasks per month, 60,000 subscribers for email marketing, 12 Forms Builder, and 10,000 Credits per month for email verification. On top of this, all these plans include access to all Pabby apps.

Integrately is a no-code automation tool designed to facilitate API integration and workflow automation, catering to users who seek to connect various applications and services without extensive technical knowledge.

Key Features of Integrately:
  1. Wide Range of Integrations: The platform supports connections with numerous apps, allowing users to automate workflows across different services.
  2. One-Click Integration: Integrately emphasizes simplicity with one-click integration capabilities, reducing the time and effort required to set up workflows.
  3. No-Code Automation: Enables users to set up and manage integrations and automations without any coding requirement.
  4. Customization and Flexibility: While offering ease of use, Integrately also allows users to customize their integrations and create complex, multi-step automations.
  1. Free Plan: 100 tasks/month with basic features like a 15-Minutes update time and 5 automations, Chat Support, and Webhooks.
  2. Starter Plan: $19.99/month (billed annually), 2,000 tasks/month with features like 5-Minutes update time, Webhooks, access to 3 premium apps, check conditions, 20 automation,  24-hour 5-day week Live Chat Support, and multiple steps producers for only 1 user.
  3. Professional Plan: $39/month (billed annually), 10,000 tasks/month with features like a 2-minute update time, Webhooks, check conditions, Branching using Paths / Routers, access to unlimited premium apps, unlimited automation, and 24-hour 5-day week Live Chat Support for only 1 user.Multiple Steps 
  4. Growth Plan: $99/month (billed annually), 30,000 tasks/month with features like 2 Minute Update Time, Webhooks, check conditions, Branching using Paths / Routers, unlimited premium apps, unlimited automation, dedicated account manager + Live Chat Support for unlimited users.
  5. Business Plan: $239/month (billed annually), 150,000 tasks/month with features like  2 Minute Update Time, Webhooks, check conditions, Branching using Paths / Routers, unlimited premium apps, unlimited automation, dedicated account manager + Live Chat Support for unlimited users.

What are some Common API Terms?

Get to know API terms easily with this short guide.

Learn about how APIs connect apps and websites, focusing on simple explanations of keywords like ‘endpoints’ and ‘requests.’ 

API TermDescription
API CallThe procedure where your computer, acting as the client, sends an API request to a server, asking it to perform a task or fetch data.
API EconomyThe collection of business strategies and methodologies centered on leveraging application programming interfaces (APIs) within the digital economy.
API GatewayA tool designed for API management, serving as a go-between connecting a client with a collection of backend services.
API KeyA distinctive code combining letters and numbers that provides entry to an API.
EndpointsA specific address where requests are sent.
Open SourceA program with source code that is accessible for use or alteration.
Request methodEmploys HTTP methods like GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE to communicate your requests to the API.
Status codeA numeric code included in an API response’s body that indicates whether your request was successful.

How do APIs work in General?

The architecture of an API is commonly comprehended through the roles played by the client and the server. The client is the application that initiates the request, while the server is the application that responds to this request. API services can be operated in 5 distinct manners, which vary based on their creation time and purpose.


Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) is used for communication, where the client and server exchange messages in XML format. This type of API was more commonly used in earlier times.


RPC is referred to as the API popularly known as Remote Procedure Calls. In this particular API, the client executes a function (or procedure) on the server, after which the server returns the result of that function to the client.

WebSocket APIs

The WebSocket API is a contemporary development in web API technology, employing JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) objects for data transmission. This popular API provides access to bi-directional communication between client web applications and the server, allowing the server to send callback messages to connected clients.

Web APIs

A Web API is an interface between a web server and a web browser.  We all use modern Web APIs daily. It’s important to note that while all web services qualify as APIs, not all APIs are web services. The variety of API terminologies, such as Java API, public API, or service APIs, emerged due to the historical development of APIs, which predates the advent of the World Wide Web.


Representational State Transfer APIs also called Rest APIs, specify a collection of operations such as GET, POST, DELETE, and others, enabling clients to interact with server data. This data exchange between clients and servers occurs over HTTP.

A key characteristic of REST APIs is their statelessness, implying that servers do not retain client information from one request to the next. The REST architectural constraints are called RESTful APIs. Using RESTful APIs promotes the rapid deployment of new features and updates, as each service operates independently.

What are the different types of APIs?

APIs are categorized by their architectural styles and their scope of application. Having delved into the primary API architectures based on web standards, we will now examine their scope of use.

Private APIs

Private APIs are used exclusively within an enterprise, serving the purpose of linking various systems and data sets to specific businesses or multiple business partners.

Public APIs 

These APIs are publicly accessible and can be utilized by anyone, mainly by third-party developers. They may or may not require some form of authorization, and there could be associated costs for using these types of APIs.

Partner APIs 

These APIs are accessible exclusively to authorized external developers and are designed to facilitate business-to-business (B2B) partnerships.

Composite APIs 

These APIs are designed to merge the functionalities of two or more distinct APIs, enabling them to address intricate system requirements or manage complex behaviors.

Remote APIs

Remote APIs establish protocols for how applications on different machines interact with each other in times of any query. Essentially, this means that one software application can access resources not located on its device, hence the term “remote”. The Java Database Connectivity API and the Java Remote Method Invocation API are two popular examples of remote of this type of API.

What is an API endpoint and why is it important for Systems?

API endpoints serve as the crucial touchpoints within the API communication framework. They encompass server URLs, services, and various specific digital locations that facilitate the transmission and reception of information between systems. These endpoints are particularly vital for enterprises due to two primary reasons:

  • Security – API endpoints can potentially expose the system to security threats, making the system vulnerable to attacks. Therefore, vigilant API monitoring is essential to prevent misuse and enhance security.
  • Performance – High-traffic API endpoints can become points of congestion, potentially creating bottlenecks that significantly affect the system’s performance. Managing these endpoints effectively is crucial to maintain optimal system functionality.

How to create an API?

Creating an API that is both appealing and trustworthy for other developers requires careful consideration and effort. The following are five essential steps for designing a high-quality API:

Step 1. Plan Your API 

Creating API specifications, for example, through OpenAPI, forms the cornerstone of your API design. Proactively considering a range of use cases that showcase the working of popular API and ensuring adherence to modern API development standards is beneficial in creating a robust and effective API.

Step 2. Build the API

API designers initially create prototypes using standard, predefined boilerplate code for an API strategy. After these prototypes undergo testing and validation, developers can then tailor them to meet specific internal requirements and specifications.

Step 3. Test Your API  

API testing, much like general software testing, is essential for identifying and mitigating bugs and defects. Specialized API testing tools can be employed not only for standard testing but also for conducting robustness tests against potential cyber-attacks.

Step 4. Document the API  

Although APIs are often designed to be intuitive and self-explanatory, comprehensive API documentation serves as a crucial guide to enhancing the usability of the published API.  The APIs that are well-documented and provide a variety of functions and use cases generally gain more popularity in a service-oriented architecture.

Step 5. Market the API 

Similar to how Amazon functions as an online marketplace for retail, there are API marketplaces designed for developers to buy and sell APIs. Listing your API in such marketplaces opens up opportunities to monetize it.

Step 6. Manage Your API Lifecycle

It’s all about making sure your APIs stay useful and up-to-date, from the moment you create them to the time they retire. It’s a bit like nurturing a plant – you plan, grow, take care of, and sometimes prune it to keep it thriving.

How to use an API?

Starting to use an API is like unlocking a door to a world of data and functionality. First, you’ll need to understand the API’s purpose and how it fits into your project. Then, with some basic coding knowledge and the API documentation in hand, you’re ready to dive in and start sending requests to access its features and data. It’s a process of learning and experimenting. The steps to implement a new API are as follows,

Create a Verified Account

To create an API key, you often need to start by setting up a verified account through an API provider. This means giving them some extra info to prove you’re legit. It’s a bit like a backstage pass – once you’re verified, you can access more features, like security keys and usage tracking. 

Set up Your HTTP API client

This utility facilitates the easy structuring of API requests using the provided API keys.

  • In the absence of an API client, you can attempt to manually structure the request in your browser, guided by the API documentation.
  • After gaining familiarity with the API’s syntax, you can begin incorporating it into your code.

Real World API uses in Work

Real-world API uses in work are incredibly diverse and essential for modern businesses. Here are some of the most common examples, 

Integrating Systems:

APIs act as the binding element connecting various software systems.

Take, for instance, the integration of a CRM system with a marketing automation tool, which can significantly streamline the management of customer data.

Automating Tasks:

APIs excel at automating routine tasks.

Consider, for example, an HR system that updates employee records automatically, drawing on data from an attendance tracking API.

Enhancing Customer Experience:

APIs can pull data from various sources to provide customers with personalized experiences, like recommending products on an e-commerce site based on browsing history.

Data Analysis and Reporting: 

APIs facilitate real-time data analysis and reporting, as they can gather data from multiple sources, thus enabling businesses to make swift and informed decisions.

Payment Processing:

In the e-commerce world, payment gateways use APIs to process transactions securely, making the online shopping experience smooth and trustworthy.

Geolocation Services:

For logistics and delivery services, APIs provide real-time tracking and geolocation, improving efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Connecting to Cloud Services:

They’re crucial for accessing cloud storage and computing services, allowing businesses to scale resources as per demand. In essence, APIs are the hidden heroes in the workplace, connecting different systems, automating processes, and providing valuable data insights, all contributing to increased efficiency and better customer experiences.


And there you have it! We’ve journeyed through the world of APIs – these amazing digital connectors that play a huge role in how different software and applications talk to each other. So next time you’re enjoying a seamless app experience or marveling at how different tech platforms work together like a well-oiled machine, remember, there’s probably an API working tirelessly in the background.

If you’re in need of specialized assistance for integrating various software systems, don’t hesitate to book a call.

Recent Posts

What is an API? | Application Programming Interface Explained
Whether you’re a budding coder, a tech aficionado, or just curious about how your favorite apps work seamlessly together, understanding APIs is your ticket to a deeper…

Related Marketing Gloassary

No data was found
Scroll to Top