Pick the Right Type of API for your Project
One of the greatest challenges of building an API is building one that will last. This is especially true for Web APIs, where you are creating both a contract between you and your users and a programming contract between your server and the client.
While what an API is and how it functions may be fairly straightforward and simple, the process of choosing which type to build, understanding why that type of API is best for your application, and then designing it to work effectively is necessary to giving your API a long life and making sure that it’s used by developers.
There are many types of APIs. One of the most common types of APIs are Web APIs; these APIs, otherwise known as Web Services, provide an interface for web applications, or applications that need to connect to each other via the Internet to communicate. There are tens of thousands of public APIs that can be used to do everything from checking traffic and weather, to updating your social media status, or even to make payments.
There are hundreds of thousands more private Web APIs. These APIs are not available to be consumed by the general public; rather, they are used by companies to extend their services and capabilities across a broad range of use cases.
There are further types of Web APIs such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Remote Procedure Call (RPC), and perhaps the most popular—at least in name— Representational State Transfer (REST). As REST or RESTful APIs have become so popular, we will investigate in detail what makes them RESTful and what these APIs are best used for.