an API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of functions and procedures allowing the creation of applications that access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service.
An API is like a waiter in a restaurant.
Imagine that you are sitting down in a restaurant. You are representing the end user. The kitchen that prepares your food is representing the backend. The waiter is who communicates between the two, just like an API.
When you enter the restaurant, you interact with the waiter and place your order. The waiter then walks over to the kitchen and tells them what they need to prepare. Once ready, the waiter will bring your order from the kitchen back to you.
An API is what helps facilitate communication between two applications, whether that be the frontend and backend or the backend or your platform and a 3rd party’s services.
It's one thing to know what a term means, but that is worthless if you don't know why you should know what an API is in the first place. Let's break down the importance of this tech term based on two high level categories. We'll walk through an explanation as well as provide a score, 1-10, that shows you how much you should care about APIs.
The first will be if you do not have a product yet. This means that you don't have a physical product. Maybe you're in the ideation phase, or maybe you're almost ready to start development. Whichever it is, we'll get into why an API is important and why you should or shouldn't care about it if you do not have a product.
As a founder, an API is only relevant to you from a planning perspective. You need to know what third parties you will integrate or communicate with. If you are a product that works with Spotify, you need to read through Spotify’s API permissions to ensure that you can actually do what you intend on doing.
The second category is if you do have a live product. Maybe you just launched your business or maybe it's been live for years and you're continuing to improve its quality. Regardless of the scenario, if your product is live, an API carries a different weight.
As a founder, an API is very relevant to you. You need to know what your product is interacting with. For example:
So you know what an API is, by definition. You know if you should care about it or not depending on your situation as a business/company/product. To dig in deeper, we will walk through some examples so we can make sure you really have a solid grasp on APIs.
Let's walk through three examples of APIs that you commonly interact with. Some of these you engage with on a daily basis, where as others are more as needed. Whether you knew it or not, these APIs help fuel your efficiency.