Written by Sherlock Holmes
The term API is an acronym and stands for “Application Programming Interface.”
Think of an API as a menu in a restaurant. The menu offers a list of dishes you can order, along with a description of each dish. When you specify which menu items you want, the restaurant’s kitchen will do the work and provide you with some finished dishes. You don’t know exactly how the restaurant prepares that food, nor do you really need to.
An API lists a set of operations that developers can use, along with a description of what they do. The developer does not necessarily need to know how, for example, an operating system constructed a “Save As” dialog box. They just need to know that it is available for use in their app.
This is not a perfect metaphor, since developers must provide their own data to the API to get results. Maybe it’s more of a restaurant where you can provide some of your own ingredients that the kitchen will work with.
It is generally accurate, though. APIs allow developers to save time. This helps reduce the amount of code developers need to create applications. It also helps create more consistency between apps for the same platform. APIs can establish access to hardware and software resources.