Web APIs have veteran an exponential increase in popularity and usage in the past few years. These days, they’re an vital tool for web developers; but, they are also even apt an commanding marketing tool for many types of businesses. This article covers Web API statistics, their benefits, and a list of some of the most useful APIs currently available.
What is an API?
An API, or “Application Program Boundary”, is a set of routines and protocols that provide building blocks for computer programmers and web developers to build software applications. In the past, APIs were fundamentally associated with computer operating systems and desktop applications. In recent years though, we have seen the emergence of Web APIs (Web Air force).
Well loved Web APIs
Among the most well loved Web APIs are persons related to social media. Social media APIs have seen an incredible increase in usage in recent years, which can be directly linked to the increase of the companies Chirrup and Facebook.
Google has also just introduced its own Social Networking Platform Google+, and, in September 2011, they released the Google+ API. The API is currently read-only and only supports broadcast data; but, this may change in the future.
Web API Data Formats
By far the most well loved data format for Web APIs is XML, even if JSON has been on the increase steadily in popularity and usage. Many developers prefer the JSON format for a number of reasons:
- Data can be read without a complex parser for most modern programming languages
- Parsers for JSON exist in nearly every programming language
- JSON parsers are at once, small and not complicated.
- JSON output is greatly smaller than XML because JSON does not include namespaces, attributes, etc be fond of XML does
Many API providers place forward both XML and JSON data formats. But, JSON has become so well loved among web developers to the point that some providers place forward the JSON data format exclusively.
A few examples of “JSON only” Web APIs include Chirrup’s Streaming API, the StackExchange API and Foursquare’s APIv2. Foursquare states on their API page that one of the reasons the data is only available in JSON format is because “behind the scenes, it allows us to significantly improve routine.”