What is API with reference to web server application?

An application programming interface (API) defines the rules that you must follow to communicate with other software systems. Developers expose or create APIs so that other applications can communicate with their applications programmatically. For example, the timesheet application exposes an API that asks for an employee's full name and a range of dates. When it receives this information, it internally processes the employee's timesheet and returns the number of hours worked in that date range.

You can think of a web API as a gateway between clients and resources on the web.


Clients are users who want to access information from the web. The client can be a person or a software system that uses the API. For example, developers can write programs that access weather data from a weather system. Or you can access the same data from your browser when you visit the weather website directly.


Resources are the information that different applications provide to their clients. Resources can be images, videos, text, numbers, or any type of data. The machine that gives the resource to the client is also called the server. Organizations use APIs to share resources and provide web services while maintaining security, control, and authentication. In addition, APIs help them to determine which clients get access to specific internal resources.