API stands for Application Programming Interface, which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. They do it exposing to the rest of applications the set of services available in each one and how they are to be accessed. Each time we use an app like Facebook, Paypal or check the weather on phone, we are using an API.
API lets a developer make a specific “call” or “request” in order to send or receive information. This communication is done using a programming language called “JSON.” It can also be used to make a defined action such as updating or deleting data. There are four basic request methods that can be made with API:
GET – Gathers information (Pulling all Coupon Codes)
PUT – Updates pieces of data (Updating Product pricing)
POST – Creates (Creating a new Product Category)
DELETE – (Deleting a blog post)
The benefits of having an API are mainly two:
Allow to reuse the code, reducing the time and costs associated with application development.
APIs increase the interoperability between applications, saving costs since applications communicate faster when the communication is automated.
REST & SOAP define how the API is presented. Each are similar in functionality but have several key differences and use cases.
REST APIs, also known as RESTful APIs, stand for Representational State Transfer. REST APIs have grown in popularity of late, as a part of Web Services. REST APIs are designed for developers to perform requests and receive responses via HTTP functions. There are four different HTTP commands that REST are based on. These include GET, PUT, POST, and DELETE. When you pull up Instagram and search for the latest and greatest meme of the day, that app is using a REST API.
SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. While REST is an architectural style, SOAP is a protocol which is defined by a standard. SOAP is dependent on XML-based systems and programming, tending to have larger, more expensive data. SOAP APIs also provide a higher level of security. A common use case is an application interacting with a financial institution.