What is an API?
The acronym means "Application Programming Interface."

Yeah, boring. I don’t think that is helpful either. It creates more questions than it answers.

So what do we say an API is?
A set of layers of technologies that applications use to collaborate together.

And this collaboration is what animates technology as we know it.

Before we move on, let's clear one misconception about APIs - they are not single pieces of technology. They are kind of like a digital fabric.

Let's try it this way.

We all know what a vehicle is and what it's used for, but it would be a mistake to say a vehicle is a single piece of technology. They are complex constellations of technology.

Vehicles come in different shapes and sizes, but when boiled down, a vehicle delivers people from point A to point B.

???? APIs are like vehicles in this case.

APIs are composite pieces of technology that deliver or extend business value to others.

Traditional boundaries of business and collaboration are dissolved by APIs but this only works because of widely adopted patterns and protocols.

Again, this is vehicle-like.

Since consumer vehicles have to travel on roads, they must adhere to a size limitations. Since they have to be safe, all vehicles need to have headlights, blinkers, and windshield wipers.

This is why special consideration has to be taken for wide-load trucks - it is deviation from the accepted standard.

Despite these requirements, we have seemingly endless iterations of vehicles in come in all different shapes and sizes.

APIs are the same. There are many makes and models but at the end of the day, an API is a means for digital (non-human) collaboration to take place.????

If APIs still feel nebulous, that's ok. Over the next few days, we'll add more meat to this skeleton and get into the nitty gritty. ☁️

Text author: Josh Austin
Made on