The simplest way, APIs are connectors. It’s all about connecting different technologies. Most of us carry phones and other small computers in our pockets that are connected to networks that give us unprecedented access to our friends and colleagues. By now, we are so used to the instant connectivity that puts the world at our fingertips. We can purchase, post, pin and pick anything. How is this possible? The answer is through APIs. Let’s get deeper in our today’s blog APIs for non-technical.
Food Delivery (a Simple Example!)
Imagine You’re hungry and lazy. You decide to order from Macdonald’s, Checked the menu and requested a specific sandwich and placed your order.
The order is received at Macdonald’s, passed along to the kitchen, and a series of steps are performed to create the sandwich. That sandwich is delivered to you and is quickly devoured.
mmmm but you still hungry, You decide to order from pizza hut. What do you think would happen if you tried to order off the menu for Macdonald’s? You’d probably be met with confusion. You certainly wouldn’t get the dish you tried to order.
What is API? It’s Like a Menu!
In the above analogy, you’re a program and the restaurants are programs that you want to interact with. To receive what you want (food) from the other programs (restaurant), you need to make a request (place an order) in a specific way (defined by the menu). If you try to request the wrong way, you won’t get what you want.
APIs are like menus. Menus(APIs) define a list of dishes(data) and when someone orders(Request) one of those dishes(data), the restaurant (maybe a database or a 3rd party app we need some data from it) does a bunch of stuff and then sends the requested dish back (send the requested data back).
Moreover, And it’s very important to note that this analogy isn’t perfect. When you order food, there are many variations you could use to get the same result.
When a program request data from another one, The request has to be formatted in a very formatted and specific way.
What is API? a Deep Dive
APIs are a big part of the web and today’s modern application architecture. an API (Application Programming Interface) is a software-to-software interface that enables two applications to exchange data among each other.
Moreover, This is especially important for programs because they can be written in different languages. Also, maybe written by different vendors and entities.
APIs Simple and Real Examples
These examples will demonstrate APIs for non-technical people in easy and clear examples.
1. Take an Uber ride
I’m requesting uber, Uber app needs to identify my location to deliver the driver to my exact location. Then, Uber app makes an API request to google maps and my location service on my smartphone, and the 2 APIs respond with
- Google maps respond with a map so I can identify the destination.
- The location service will respond with my exact location information.
2. Startup Advertise on Facebook (FB Ads)
I have got an eCommerce niche website and I’m selling handcrafted accessories. I need to make advertising on Facebook. But I want Facebook to target the following segments:
- All visitors to my website last 180 days.
- visitors who added a product to the cart.
- All visitors who made one or more purchases.
In this example, When I create a Facebook Ad. I use Facebook APIs to retarget the above visitors with customized advertising campaigns on their Facebook timeline.
Simply Facebook requests an API from my eCommerce website which contains these specific data, Then Facebook can use this data to retarget those users with my campaigns.
This is why APIs are hugely important to any business. APIs allow companies to focus on their own expertise, plugging in the tools and programs of other companies as needed to create their solution.
To demonstrate APIs for non-technical people isn’t an easy task at all, And I always see this conflict between developers and business people, So I’ve tried to make it as simple as I can and I hope you’ve caught it in a simple way.
Thank you for reading!