Technology

What does API stand for? And Other Acronyms: REST, SOAP, XML, JSON, WSDL

When you utilize a browser, your browser makes request from the clients server and the server sends back files that your browser assembles and displays a web page with. But what if you just wanted your server or web page to speak to another server? This would require you to program code to an API.

What does API stand for?

API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface. An API is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building web-enabled and mobile-based applications. The API specifies how you can authenticate (optional), request and receive data from the API server.

What is an API?

When used in the context of web development, an API is typically a defined set of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) request messages, along with a definition of the structure of response messages. Web APIs allow the combination of multiple services into new applications known as mashups.Wikipedia

A Video Description of What APIs do

There are two main protocols when developing an API. Formal programming languages like Microsoft .NET and Java developers often prefer SOAP but the most popular protocol is REST. Much like you type an address in a browser to get a response, your code passes a request to an API – literally a path on a server that authenticates and response appropriately with the data you requested. Responses for SOAP respond with XML, which looks a lot like HTML – the code used by your browser.

If you’d like to test APIs without writing a line of code, DHC has a great Chrome Application for interacting with APIs and seeing their responses.

What does the Acronym SDK stand for?

SDK is an acronym for Software Developer Kit.

When a company publishes their API, there’s typically accompanied documentation that shows how the API authenticates, how it can be queried, and what the appropriate responses are. To help developers get a head start, companies often publish a Software Developer Kit to include a class or the necessary functions easily into projects that the developer is writing.

What does the Acronym XML stand for?

XML is an acronym for eXtensible Markup Language. XML is a markup language used to encode data in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable.

Here’s an example of how XML appears:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<product id="1">
<title>Product A</title>
<description>The first product</description>
<price>
<amount>5.00</amount>
<per>each</per>
</price>
</book>

What does the Acronym JSON stand for?

JSON is an acronym for JavaScript Object Notation. JSON is a format for structuring data that is sent back and forth via an API. JSON is an alternative to XML. REST APIs more commonly respond with JSON – an open standard format that uses human-readable text to transmit data objects consisting of attribute–value pairs.

Here’s an example of the data above using JSON:

{
"id": 1,
"title": "Product A",
"description": "The first product",
"price": {
"amount": "5.00",
"per": "each"
}
}

What does the Acronym REST stand for?

REST is an acronym for the Representational State Transfer architectural style for distributed hypermedia systems. So named by Roy Thomas Fielding

Whew… deep breath! You can read the entire dissertation here, called the Architectural Styles and the Design of Network-based Software Architectures submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in Information and Computer Science by Roy Thomas Fielding.

Thanks Dr. Fielding! Read more about REST at Wikipedia.

What does the Acronym SOAP stand for?

SOAP is an acronym for Simple Object Access protocol

I’m not a programmer, but in my opinion developers who love SOAP do so because they can easily develop code in a standard programming interface that reads the Web Service Definition Language (WSDL) file. They don’t need to parse the response, it’s already accomplished using the WSDL. SOAP requires a programmatic envelope, which defines the message structure and how to process it, a set of encoding rules for expressing instances of application-defined datatypes and a convention for representing procedure calls and responses.

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