If you’re not a developer, then API probably doesn’t mean much to you, and Developers will appear to be talking to each other in code, “we’ll get that info via a restful call to the API endpoint, or perhaps via SOAP?”.
Gobbledegook right? So what does it all mean?
An API is the way that a system allows other systems to interact with it. API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface. You’ll hear several acronyms mentioned when talking about APIs such as SOAP, XML, JSON, ReST and WSDL. Common ways that systems interact over the internet are via SOAP or REST.
Here’s a little about both;
Data received across HTTP using an API is usually in the format of XML or JSON:
API’s are used throughout web and app development. We may use an API to send an email using an SMTP API call to a remote mail server, ask Google’s API to give us the distance between two postcodes via road, get the latest news from a WordPress site or interact with your CRM to streamline your business. Or even something as simple as getting the time.
To summarise, an API is a way of one system speaking with another using as little or only the information that is required for the application or function to work.
Whether using SOAP or ReSTful APIs, the beauty is as long as you adhere to the rules of how the remote system expects you to ask the question of it. The answer will be provided in a format that you can process in whatever application you wish.