API Basics

By David Gyenes, Director of IT

So many people ask us what APIs are and want to know how they work. API is controlled communication between two programs. Let’s start with some basics. API stands for Application Protocol Interface. API does not automatically exist in a program. It is enabled so that we can connect programs together and exchange information.

There are four common request types of API: GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE. There are many more, but these are the most commonly used ones. GET is to read information, POST is to write, PUT is to update and DELETE is to delete information. Note: Depending upon the actual web application one should always check the documentation.

An API request has four parameters: Request Type, URL, Headers and Body. We just saw the four most common Request Types (GET, POST, PUT & Delete). The URL or End point is where we send the request. The Headers are where we define communication types/permissions. Finally, The Body of the request is to send information.

This is a controlled information exchange. It can be secured or unsecured. You might ask, “What could be an unsecured information exchange?” An example of an unsecured information exchange would be when we surf the web and click on a link that is an API / information request. This is because in this example we don’t need a password for opening a web page and that is considered unsecured. But when we access some sensitive information and we need a password or key, that is most often called an API key or access token. If we maintain this information, then we can start making connections.

At the Learning Lab on March 18, 2021 at 12pm EST we will be hosting a beginner API course. Register for the Learning Lab below.