FAQ: About APIs and SDKs

Here are some of the most common questions about APIs that we’ve seen/heard.  If you have another question, please post it to the google group.  If enough people ask about something, we’ll add it here!

  • What does API stand for?
  • Application Programming Interface.
  • What does an API do?
  • APIs provide a standardized way for developers to leverage data, functions, and applications to build entirely new products and services. The interfaces allow users and programs outside of a company to access specific functions or data from inside the company, without exposing everything inside the firewall.  Because they are both simple and flexible, APIs make it possible for companies to rapidly expand into new contexts and be readily prepared to adapt to meet the ever-changing needs of their customers.
  • What languages are used for API interfaces?
  • Any programming language can be used, but the most common REST languages are:

    Here is an overview of many of the RESTful API Description Languages including OpenAPI Specification, RAML, WADL, WSDL, and others.

  • What tools are used for API documentation?
  • APIs can be documented in pretty much any tool out there, from MS Word or Open Office Write or FrameMaker to the most basic text editor. The most common non-word processing tools are Swagger, Postman, or text editors such as Notepad++. It is possible to do API documentation in HTML or XML/DITA, for which there are a large number of tools.
  • APIs and SDKs — what’s the difference?
  • Both are a way for a program to interface with and control the resources provided by another piece of software, whether that other software is a web service, an end-user app, an OS service or daemon, or a kernel device driver. Click here for a longer answer.
  • APIs and Microservices— what’s the difference?
  • APIs and microservices are related concepts, and they interact; but they are not the same thing. In this article Lukas Rosenstock identifies the relationship between APIs, microservices, and containers.