When the API is called, the information about the API activity is captured and can be displayed in the Activities view. The activity details can be expanded to see the data flow through the different elements within the web API resource.

When you search for lights online, you have a menu of options to choose from. You choose a departure city and date, a return city and date, cabin class, and other variables like your meal, your seat, or baggage requests.

Airline Demo

To book your flight, you need to interact with the airline’s website to access the airline’s database to see if any seats are available on those dates, and what the cost might be based on the date, flight time, route popularity, etc.

You need access to that information from the airline’s database, whether you’re interacting with it from the website or an online travel service that aggregates information from multiple airlines. Alternatively, you might be accessing the information from a mobile phone. In any case, you need to get the information, and so the application must interact with the airline’s API, giving it access to the airline’s data.

The API is the interface that, like your helpful waiter, runs and delivers the data from the application you’re using to the airline’s systems over the Internet. It also then takes the airline’s response to your request and delivers right back to the travel application you’re using. Moreover, through each step of the process, it facilitates the interaction between the application and the airline’s systems – from seat selection to payment and booking.

APIs do the same for all interactions between applications, data, and devices. They allow the transmission of data from system to system, creating connectivity. APIs provide a standard way of accessing any application data, or device, whether it’s accessing cloud applications like Salesforce, or shopping from your mobile phone.

Types of APIs

There are numerous types of APIs. For example, you may have heard of Java APIs, or interfaces within classes that let objects talk to each other in the Java programming language. Along with program-centric APIs, there are also Web APIs such as the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Remote Procedure Call (RPC), and perhaps the most popular—at least in name— Representational State Transfer (REST). There are 15,000 publicly available APIs, according to Programmable Web, and many thousands of more private APIs that companies use to expand their internal and external capabilities.

More API resources

If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at our API resources on definitions, design, and management. We also have more resources about how APIs are changing the enterprise and becoming valuable business assets themselves. If you’d like to take the next step, take a look at our solutions for APIs in the enterprise.