The term API is daunting for many people diving into development for the first time, and they aren’t alone in that respect. Even experienced developers have expressed disdain regarding working with APIs, but it isn’t all that bad once you become familiar with the process. Moreover, there is a lot to offer and even gain from working with them.
In this post, you will discover the benefits of open APIs versus the use of closed APIs and how they differ from each other. You will also see some examples explaining how you can use them. Finally, you will get a wrap-up summarizing the points covered in this post to make a good reference for later.
Let’s get started.
Open API or Public API
The concept of an open API can be a muddy subject if you don’t know the terminology, which starts with the basics. In this case, the terms Open API and Public API are interchangeable terms often thought to mean different things.
Open APIs are built to be accessible to any individual who wants access to them, but they do more than that. Open APIs can easily offer access to public-facing information, whether for employees or clients of an organization.
The terms are not to be confused with Closed or Private APIs, which are pretty different in many ways.
Open vs. Closed API
Open APIs differ from closed APIs because they allow access to anyone who wants access. Closed APIs require a degree of security and authentication, this is because some APIs contain sensitive information.
Organizations typically use closed APIs to offer access to sensitive data for employees and members of an organization. Typically the biggest difference between the two is the enforcement of authentication procedures closed APIs cannot be accessed by just anyone. There are evident benefits to both types of APIs. The best way to identify them is to imagine the authentication procedures as a wall obscuring sensitive information from prying eyes. This is an obvious benefit; now, let’s talk about the benefits of open access APIs.
Benefits of Open API
There are a lot of benefits to open access APIs, which explains why it is so popular. In all cases, one might initially think that hiding information behind authentication would be an obvious win. However, this is far from the truth; in fact, some might argue that there is more value in open access APIs. CHeck out the next video to learn more about APIs.
You can offer a slew of services with open access, such as testing APIs for software development. A great example of testing APIs is the Random User API, which simulates several users for software development testing. Twitter’s API is a great example of a value offered by public APIs, which are used to grab feeds from Twitter like posts, comments, and more. Other organizations that offer open APIs, from Facebook to Google and beyond, offer extensible value to developers and business owners alike.
Let's look at some of the benefits offered by open APIs
- Low cost
- Easy to implement
- Allows for greater functionality
- Cloud-based can use anywhere a user has access to the internet
- Easily set up virtual call centers, remote teams, or distributed teams
- Use with any device anywhere in the world
- Enhances productivity and performance for sales, service, or support
- Truly integrated workflows
- Adjusts workflows to enhance the customer experience
- It gives visibility to specific activities, such as those that happen inside a call center.
It doesn’t matter what you might use them for, or if you are creating or integrating an existing API, they are a highly beneficial tool. With the above in mind, the next big question is how to integrate APIs into your software or organization.
Open API Integration
There is still a lot to consider when working with open APIs; even open APIs need security. Without a degree of protection, anyone could modify an API to retrieve information they shouldn’t be able to access. Open APIs can also be manipulated to change information within an organization unless appropriately secured. One great use for APIs is marketing which often serves several different needs, but no matter what, you will need to consider some important actions.
Let’s look at some things to consider when securing your APIs, whether open or closed.
The security measure to protect APIs include:
- API Inventorying
- Eliminate HTTP basic authentication
- API access control
- Monitoring and analytics across API silos
- API threat detection
- Auditing and incident response
- API security testing
- Use SSL and enforce TLS 1.2 (deprecate older versions of TLS)
There is more to consider, such as integrating these APIs, which are distinct on a case-by-case basis. Each API will have different requirements for how to set up and incorporate them into your application or organization. No matter what you are doing with APIs, you will need to understand how to integrate them; this typically starts with exploring the documentation.
Getting Started With Open APIs
Getting started with open APIs is easy; first, you need to identify the problem you need to solve. Once you’ve done that, start investigating different API options and exploring their documentation. From there, you can always turn to the community of developers and users for any advice or tips on using the API you choose.