Basic guide for API beginners

Hello, today we come to bring you a guide for dummies on the use of the API, as we have talked about in previous articles, APIs are mechanisms that allow two software components to communicate with each other through a set of definitions and protocols. For example, the meteorology institute’s software system contains daily weather data(AWS,2024)

APIs can operate in four different ways, depending on the timing and reason for their creation.

SOAP API: These APIs use the Simple Object Access Protocol. The client and server exchange messages using XML. This is a less flexible API that was more popular in the past.

RPC API: These APIs are called Remote Procedure Calls. The client completes a function (or procedure) on the server, and the server returns the result to the client.

WebSocket API: The WebSocket API is another modern development of the web API that uses JSON objects to transmit data. The WebSocket API supports bidirectional communication between client and server applications. The server can send callback messages to connected clients, making it more efficient than the REST API.

REST API: These are the most popular and flexible APIs found on the web today. The client sends requests to the server as data. The server uses this client input to initiate internal functions and returns output data to the client. Let’s take a closer look at REST APIs below.

What Are REST APIs?

REST stands for Representational State Transfer. REST defines a set of functions such as GET, PUT, DELETE, etc. that clients can use to access server data. Clients and servers exchange data using HTTP.

The primary feature of REST API is that it is stateless. The absence of state means that servers do not store client data between requests. Client requests to the server are similar to URLs typed into the browser to visit a website. The server’s response is simple data, without the typical graphical representation of a web page.

What Is a Web API?

A web API or web service API is an application processing interface between a web server and a web browser. All web services are APIs, but not all APIs are web services. The REST API is a special type of web API that uses the standard architectural style explained earlier.

Different terms related to APIs, such as Java API or service APIs, exist because APIs were historically created before the World Wide Web. Modern web APIs are REST APIs, and the terms can be used interchangeably.

What Are API Integrations?

API integrations are software components that automatically update data between clients and servers. Some examples of API integrations include automatic cloud data syncing from your phone’s image gallery or automatic time and date syncing on your laptop when traveling to another time zone. Businesses can also use them to efficiently automate many system functions.

What Benefits Do REST APIs Offer?
  1. Integration: APIs are used to integrate new applications with existing software systems. This increases development speed since every functionality doesn’t have to be written from scratch. You can use APIs to leverage existing code.
  1. Innovation: Entire sectors can change with the arrival of a new application. Companies must respond quickly and support the rapid implementation of innovative services. To do this, they can make changes to the API without having to rewrite all the code.
  1. Scalability: APIs present a unique opportunity for companies to meet the needs of their customers on different platforms. For example, the maps API allows map information to be integrated into websites, Android, iOS, etc. Any company can provide similar access to its internal databases by using free or paid APIs(AWS,2024)
  1. Ease of Maintenance: The API acts as a gateway between two systems. Each system is required to make internal changes so that the API is not affected. Thus, any future changes made by one party to the code will not affect the other.
What Are the Different Types of APIs?

APIs are classified based on both their architecture and scope of use. We’ve already explored the main types of API architectures; now let’s look at the scope of use(AWS,2024)

Private APIs: These are internal to a company and are only used to connect systems and data within the company.

Public APIs: They are open to the public, and anyone can use them. There may or may not be authorization and cost associated with this type of API.

Partner APIs: Only authorized external developers can access them to assist in partnerships between companies.

Composite APIs: These combine two or more different APIs to address complex system requirements or behaviors.

What Is an API Endpoint, and Why Is It Important?

API endpoints are the final points of contact in the API communication system. These are the URLs of servers, services, and other specific digital locations from which information is sent and received between systems. API endpoints are crucial for businesses for two main reasons:

  1. Security: API endpoints make the system vulnerable to attacks. API monitoring is crucial to prevent misuse.
  1. Performance: API endpoints, especially high-traffic ones, can cause bottlenecks and affect system performance.
How to Secure a REST API?

All APIs must be secured through proper authentication and monitoring. The two main ways to secure REST APIs are as follows:

Authentication Tokens

Used to authorize users to make the API call. Authentication tokens verify that users are who they say they are and that they have the access rights for that specific API call. For example, when logging into the email server, the email client uses authentication tokens for secure access(AWS,2024)

API Keys

API keys verify the program or application making the API call. They identify the application and ensure that it has the necessary access rights to make the API call in question. API keys are not as secure as tokens but allow monitoring of the API to collect usage data. You may have noticed a long string of characters and numbers in your browser’s URL when visiting different websites. This string is an API key that the website uses to make internal calls to the API(AWS,2024)


Creating a desirable API that other developers want to work with and trust requires due diligence and effort. The following are the five necessary steps for high-quality API design:

  1. API Planning: API specifications, such as OpenAPI, provide the schema for designing your API. It’s best to think about different use cases in advance and ensure that the API meets current development standards.
  1. API Creation:API designers create API prototypes using reusable code. Once the prototype is tested, developers can customize it to internal specifications.
  1. API Testing: API testing is the same as software testing and should be done to avoid errors and defects. API testing tools can be used to reinforce API testing against cyberattacks.
  1. API Documentation: Although APIs are self-explanatory, documentation serves as a guide to enhance their use. Well-documented APIs offering a range of functions and use cases tend to be more popular in a service-oriented architecture.
  1. API Marketing: Just as Amazon is an online marketplace for retail, API marketplaces exist for developers to buy and sell other APIs. Publishing your API can enable you to monetize it.
What Are API Tests?

API testing strategies are similar to other software testing methodologies. The main goal is to validate server responses. API testing includes the following:

  • Making multiple requests to API endpoints to test performance.
  • Writing unit tests to check business logic and functional correctness.
  • Testing security by simulating attacks on the system. 
How to Write API Documentation?

Writing comprehensive API documentation is part of the API management process. API documentation can be automatically generated by tools or written manually. Some of the best practices include:

  • Writing explanations in simple, easy-to-read English. Tool-generated documents can be cumbersome and require editing.
  • Using code examples to explain functionality.
  • Keeping the documentation accurate and up-to-date.
  • Tailoring writing style to beginners.
  • Covering all issues the API can solve for users. 
How to Use an API?

Among the steps to implement a new API are:

  • Obtaining an API key.
  • This is done by creating a verified account with the API provider.
  • Setting up an HTTP API client. This tool allows you to easily structure API requests using the API keys received.
  • If you don’t have an API client, you can try structuring the request on your own in your browser. For this, refer to the API documentation.
  • Once you get used to the new API syntax, you can start using it in your code. 
Where Can I Find New APIs?

New web APIs can be found on API websites (such as Inmov´s) and directories. API websites are open platforms where anyone can list an API for sale. API directories are repositories controlled and regulated by the directory owner. Expert API designers can evaluate and test a new API before adding it to their directory(AWS,2024)

Some popular API websites include:

  • Rapid API: The largest global API website with over 10,000 public APIs and 1 million active developers on the site. RapidAPI allows users to test APIs directly on the platform before confirming their purchase.
  • Public APIs: The platform aggregates remote APIs into 40 niche categories, making it easy to browse and search for the most suitable one to meet your needs.
  • APIForThat and APIList: These two websites have lists of over 500 web APIs, along with detailed information on how to use them.
What Is an API Gateway?

An API gateway is an API management tool for enterprise clients using a wide range of backend services. API gateways often handle common tasks such as user authentication, statistics, and fee management applied to all API calls.

For instance, Amazon API Gateway is a fully managed service that makes it easy for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and protect APIs at any scale. It manages all tasks involved in accepting and processing thousands of simultaneous API calls, including traffic management, CORS support, authorization and access control, controlled throttling, monitoring, and API versioning management. 

What Is GraphQL?

GraphQL is a query language specifically developed for APIs. It prioritizes giving clients exactly the data they request and nothing more. It is designed to make APIs fast, flexible, and easy to develop. As an alternative to REST, GraphQL provides frontend developers with the ability to query multiple databases, microservices, and APIs with a single GraphQL endpoint. Organizations choose to create APIs with GraphQL because it helps them develop applications more quickly. Learn more about GraphQL here.

AWS AppSync is a fully managed service that makes it easy to develop GraphQL APIs by handling the heavy lifting of securely connecting to data sources such as AWS DynamoDB, AWS Lambda, etc. AWS AppSync can send real-time data updates via Websockets to millions of clients. For mobile and web applications, AppSync also provides access to local data when devices are disconnected. Once deployed, AWS AppSync automatically scales up and down the GraphQL API execution engine to meet API request volumes.

What other options do I have if I want to implement an API?

At Inmov, we specialize in API implementations at lower costs, coupled with constant monitoring and support. Our approach focuses on delivering efficient and affordable solutions tailored to our clients’ specific needs. By leveraging our expertise in API integration, we ensure seamless connectivity between systems while optimizing performance and minimizing expenses. Additionally, our comprehensive approach to cybersecurity ensures that your data remains protected against potential threats, providing peace of mind and reliability to your operations. With Inmov, you not only gain cost-effective API solutions but also benefit from enhanced security measures and unparalleled support, empowering your business to thrive in today’s digital landscape.