What is an external api?

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An external API, or Application Programming Interface, is a set of rules and protocols that allows different software applications to communicate and interact with each other. It enables developers to access and use functionalities or data from external systems or services, without having to understand the internal workings of those systems. In this article, we will dive deeper into the concept of external APIs, exploring their purpose, benefits, and examples of how they are used.

What is an External API?

An external API acts as a bridge between two software applications, allowing them to exchange information and perform certain actions. It defines a set of rules and protocols that specify how different software components should interact with each other. APIs can be thought of as a contract between the provider of the API and the consumer, outlining the methods and data formats that can be used for communication.

External APIs are often provided by third-party companies or services, allowing developers to leverage their functionalities or access their data. These APIs are typically accessed over the internet using standard protocols such as HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) or HTTPS (HTTP Secure). They can provide a wide range of functionalities, such as retrieving data, performing calculations, sending notifications, or even controlling hardware devices.

Benefits of External APIs

External APIs offer several benefits for developers and businesses. Here are some of the key advantages:

1. Reusability: External APIs provide pre-built functionalities that developers can easily integrate into their own applications. This allows developers to save time and effort by leveraging existing solutions rather than building everything from scratch.

2. Scalability: By using external APIs, developers can offload certain tasks or processes to external services, which are often designed to handle large-scale operations. This enables applications to scale more effectively and handle increased user demand without significant infrastructure investments.

3. Access to specialized services: External APIs allow developers to access specialized services or data that may not be available within their own application. For example, integrating with a payment gateway API enables an application to accept online payments without having to develop its own payment processing system.

4. Collaboration: APIs facilitate collaboration between different software applications and systems. By exposing certain functionalities through APIs, developers can create ecosystems where multiple applications can work together, exchange data, and build upon each other’s capabilities.

Examples of External APIs

There are numerous examples of external APIs available for different purposes. Here are a few popular ones:

1. Google Maps API: This API allows developers to embed Google Maps into their applications and access various map-related functionalities, such as geocoding, routing, and place search.

2. Twitter API: The Twitter API enables developers to interact with the Twitter platform, allowing them to retrieve tweets, post tweets, search for tweets, and perform other Twitter-related actions.

3. Stripe API: Stripe provides an API that allows developers to integrate secure online payment processing into their applications, enabling them to accept credit card payments and manage transactions.

4. OpenWeatherMap API: This API provides access to weather data, allowing developers to retrieve current weather conditions, forecasts, and other meteorological information for specific locations.


In conclusion, an external API is a set of rules and protocols that enable different software applications to communicate and interact with each other. It allows developers to access functionalities or data from external systems or services without having to understand their internal workings. External APIs offer several benefits, including reusability, scalability, access to specialized services, and collaboration. Examples of external APIs include Google Maps API, Twitter API, Stripe API, and OpenWeatherMap API.


– Google Maps API: developers.google.com/maps/documentation
– Twitter API: developer.twitter.com/en/docs/twitter-api
– Stripe API: stripe.com/docs/api
– OpenWeatherMap API: openweathermap.org/api