What is an Application Programming Interface (API)?

    In this article, we will give you an overview of what Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are, what their purpose is, and how API programming can be beneficial to your online business


    Today, APIs are omnipresent in web hosting and in using them you can quickly and efficiently integrate existing useful external services onto your platform.


    What is an Application Programming Interface (API) — Including the SOAP API & REST API?

    Whether you are a developer or a business owner trying to host their site, you must have seen the shorthand API thrown around, and you might be wondering what the fuss is all about.

    In this article, we will give you an overview of what Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are, their purpose, and how API programming benefit to your online business.

    If you have just started using Nexcess services and need to find your way around, check out our Nexcess Portal Guide to get you started.

    What is the Difference Between the Terms API & Software?


    An API is limited to the portion of a software program's code that allows two software programs to communicate with each other. An API defines the proper way for a software program to request services or data from an Operating System (OS) or other application and in turn expose data to those software programs/OSs.

    How Does an API Work?


    An API defines a set of rules governing how two software applications or components talk to each other. Some examples of API-based interactions include a web application communicating with a web server, web servers talking each other programmatically, or applications interacting with an Operating System (OS).

    Software API Definition  

    To give you a brief software API definition, it is a central software hub through which different, otherwise disjointed applications communicate. All of the applications which want to communicate through the API need to follow the rules set by the API, or their requests will not be able to be processed.

    If this sounds a bit too abstract, you can imagine the API as the motherboard in your computer. Basically, it is the central interface into which all the other components of the system are plugged into, which enables them to send information through the motherboard, which handles the flow of data, enabling the system to work as a whole.

    The motherboard in a computer defines the routes through which signals travel from one hardware component to another similarly to how an Application Programming Interface routes requests between software components.

    If your motherboard does not have the necessary ports for a particular component, you will not be able to plug it in and use it. In a similar fashion, an API will not be able to process requests from an application that is unknown to it or which has not been properly configured to access the API.

    Therefore, documentation is possibly the most essential part of any API. The API documentation needs to contain extensive information on which services the API offers and how those services can be accessed and used. An API that does not provide this information is effectively rendered useless.

    API Tokens

    To work with an API, we need to get access to its services. This kind of access is most commonly done through the use of API Tokens. In short, API Tokens are little bits of code that are used as a method of authorization for access to the API. Every time your site sends a request to the API, the access token is sent along with the request, verifying your identity. This way, the system stays secure and unauthorized requests to the API are discarded. 

    SOAP & REST APIs

    Over time, as APIs have become more widespread, several different API design models have been created for developers to use as guidelines when developing new applications. While many other models exist today, two of the most common ones you will come across are SOAP and REST.

    Simple Object Transfer Protocol (SOAP) API

    SOAP stands for Simple Object Transfer Protocol and is the older model of the two. Being the more heavy-weight and strict model, SOAP excels at managing distributed enterprise applications.

    REpresentational State Transfer (REST) API

    Meanwhile, REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer, and it was introduced as a simpler, more lightweight alternative to SOAP. While SOAP is an actual protocol, REST is just a set of constraints. It is primarily used for direct point-to-point communication. Today, the majority of public APIs are based on REST principles. A well-known example of REST is the WordPress REST API, which you can learn more about in the What is WordPress REST API and How Do You Use It? blog article.

    When Do You Use Application Programming Interfaces?

    Depending on the size and type of your business, there are many ways in which APIs can be implemented as a part of your site. One of the most common ways you interact with APIs is when you embed content from another platform onto your website.

    For example, if you wish to have Google Maps show the location of your business on your website, you would be connecting to the Google Maps APIs. Likewise, if you want YouTube videos embedded on your site, you must connect to the YouTube Data API. Finally, any time you want your site loading information from a separate platform, you will most likely be connecting to an API. And to make all this work, your developers will have to study the documentation of that API and then implement it onto your website.

    If you run a Magento website, you will almost certainly be connecting to the Elasticsearch API. We can learn about connecting to the Elasticsearch Container in the Nexcess Knowledge Base.

    Consider Managed Hosting with Nexcess

    Today, Application Programming Interfaces are omnipresent in web hosting. While in the past, you would have to code every part of your website yourself, today, using APIs, you can quickly and efficiently integrate existing valuable external services onto your platform.


    We, of course, acknowledge this at Nexcess Managed Hosting, and as such, we offer many different containers which can simply be integrated into your site through the use of APIs. In additional, our expert support team is available 24/7 via mail, phone and chat to answer any questions you might have.


    Be sure to take a look at our Fully Managed WordPress and WooCommerce Hosting Plansand let us help you make your business grow. 

    Managed Hosting Products at Nexcess

    Nexcess provides the needed level of automation to all routine website administration tasks that require technical knowledge and skills. Our Nexcess Client Portal is specifically designed to help website owners manage all technical aspects of their hosting plans leveraging a highly intuitive and user-friendly interface.

    Our fully managed hosting plans are optimized for the chosen platform to provide you with the best approach to website hosting. Enhanced security, better performance, high flexibility, and great scaling options for a reasonable price are just some of the benefits a website owner gets by choosing one of the Nexcess Managed Hosting Plans.

    Next Steps with a Nexcess Cloud Hosting Solution?

    Read more about the Fully Managed Cloud Environment by Nexcess and its benefits for your business.

    A Cloud Hosting Solution That Lets You Do Business Your Way 

    We believe in the promise of cloud: scalability, security, performance, and ease of use. Together with our team, clients, and partners, we’ve built something better.

    Choose From Multiple Applications 

    Whether you’re a small business or a high-traffic eCommerce store, our cloud hosting solutions are designed around your needs: auto scaling, PCI compliance, and comprehensive development tools provide you with maximum dynamic flexibility in a fully managed cloud environment.


    We make applications easy with environment optimizations for:


    And there are many more!


    We also have a variety of Nexcess support articles about how best to implement our product offerings housed in the Nexcess Knowledge Baseincluding how to get your site going with a number of different configuration options. These resources include a great article on setting this up for Migrating to Nexcess with managed WordPress and managed WooCommerce hosting

    About the Nexcess Portal

    Starting with a new hosting partner can be overwhelming. For that exact reason, we have prepared a Nexcess Portal Guide to make each client’s introduction to our Nexcess Portal easier.


    How to Become a Nexcess Portal Pro 

    You signed up for an account with Nexcess but now what do you do? New systems can be intimidating to learn, so we’ve put together this guide to help explain what is in the portal and where to find it.


    Next Steps with Fully Managed WordPress Hosting?

    Read more about the Fully Managed WordPress Hosting and its benefits for your business.


    Build Better Websites with Fully Managed WordPress Hosting 

    It’s hosting optimized for WordPress. That means a faster, more secure and scalable website. Smart monitoring tools are built-in to help you keep it that way. 

    It’s why WordPress Users Trust Nexcess Hosting.

    We also have a variety of Nexcess support articles about WordPressincluding how to get your site going with a number of different configuration options. These resources include a great article on setting this up for Migrating to Nexcess with managed WordPress and managed WooCommerce hosting

    Considering Use of a CDN?

    Many businesspeople wonder how a CDN speeds up your ecommerce site, but they will discover that the reasons are remarkably straightforward. Review the content, resources, and links in this article to learn more about those reasons in full detail.  

    Managed Applications with Nexcess

    Hosting optimized for the industry's leading platforms including Managed WordPress HostingManaged WooCommerce Hosting, and Managed Magento Hosting

    Build Better Sites and Stores With Fully Managed Hosting from Nexcess 

    Faster Speeds, Stronger Security, Inherent Scalability and Trusted Support.

    Our range of hosting plans caters to any business scale. We do all the heavy lifting for you to focus on growing your business. In addition, we automatically update ore components and plugins to the latest version and ensure your hosting environment is properly optimized, secured, and updated.


    Nexcess infrastructure was specially designed to keep up the best speed and performance in the industry. No traffic surge can threaten your website to go down thanks to our autoscaling technology which adds more resources to your server to handle the load. In addition, we offer always-on security monitoring and support from web hosting experts 24/7/365 and a built-in CDN with 22 locations and advanced caching for ultra-fast loading.


    All hosting plans include The Nexcess 30-Day Web Hosting Money Back Guarantee.


    We also have a variety of Nexcess support articles about how best to implement our product offerings housed in the Nexcess Knowledge Baseincluding how to get your site going with a number of different configuration options. These resources include a great article on setting this up for Migrating to Nexcess with managed WordPress and managed WooCommerce hosting


    Need a No-Code Website Building Solution? 


    Are you on an accelerated schedule and already ready to move forward? If you need to get started with your Nexcess StoreBuilder Solution sooner rather than later, check out these resources:

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    If you need any assistance with the above-mentioned, don't hesitate to reach out. For 24-hour assistance any day of the year, Nexcess customers can contact our support team by email or through your Client Portal.

    Why Choose Nexcess?

    Because we're different! Chris Lema captures "the why" in his passionate and stirring recount of a Nexcess support-related story.


    Useful YouTube > Nexcess Channel Links

    Resources for More Information


    The Applications, WooCommerceand WordPress sections within the Nexcess Knowledge Base are important resources for those seeking additional knowledge. Or, check out our related articles below.

    Need more help? The Website Management .htaccessand Scripts, Cron Jobs, Reports and Monitoring, IP Management, and Dev Sites sections within the Nexcess Knowledge Base are important resources for those seeking additional knowledge. The Applications section also contains valuable insights for those seeking additional knowledge about our other various hosted applications and platforms. Check out our related video playlists and articles below:

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