A Web API is an application programming interface for a web browser or a web server which is a set of tools or functions that allows programmers to build applications. A Web API can be built on different technologies like Java, NET, etc. It provides a design interface for one to work over the internet through web-based emails, browsing features or chats.
It is a type of interface where communication takes place using the internet and certain web protocols. This API can be accessed by using the HTTP protocol. It helps define response structures, request messages and identifies supported response media types.
Commonly used APIs
- SOAP a protocol that defines the structure of the message and the communication.
- XML-RPC’s function is much simpler and uses a specific XML format to transfer data
- JSON-RPC is similar to XML-RPC and uses JSON to transfer data instead of XML
- REST is a set of principles that identifies resources within a request and has the ability to manipulate the resources via the interface. REST offers an easy URL structure, consisting of that reflect the logical and hierarchical of the data.
How Web APIs work?
When an application wants to communicate with a web server, the application sends an HTTP request and in return the web server sends an HTTP response. HTTP requests and responses share information in the header and the body of the message, that include different types of data such as the content type, what browser is being used, language etc.