A Web API is a framework used for building HTTP services that are used by other clients such as mobile phones and browsers. Web APIs are similar to the ASP.NET MVC due to the MVC features such as controllers, routing, model binders, and dependency injection that they contain.
The Web APIs are an extension of the WCF REST API and can be used with ASP.NET MVC as well as other web applications such as ASP.NET WebForms. They can also be used as standalone web service applications.
The Importance of Web APIs
Running a web-based application for your business is a great achievement. However, this is not enough to make sure that your business reaches as many people as possible. A good percentage of the world population, for example, is using smartphones in their daily life. These devices come with a lot of applications that aid in making life easy. Therefore, if you want to reach these people through their smartphones in a fast and simple way, you will need to use a Web API that is compatible with the devices as well as browsers.
A good example is a company running a travel agency. Such a company will need to use sophisticated travel and flight Web APIs to make sure that their customers can book for flights seamlessly and on the go. This guide shows an example of the top flight and travels APIs one can consider for a travel agency. Widespread adoption of smartphones and other handheld devices make it necessary to implement Web APIs in almost any web application we run today.
Therefore, in a simpler language, a Web API is a framework that you can use to expose data and services to different devices. Web APIs use all the features of an HTTP protocol such as to request and response headers, versioning, and caching and do not require the definition of extra config settings for different devices.
Web API responses have an HTTP status code and an accept header.
They work with HTTP verbs POST, GET, DELETE, and PUT, hence supporting convention-based CRUD actions.
Web APIs support multiple text formats such as JSON and XML.
They have automatic support for OData making it easy for clients to use the method of OData query composition.
Web APIs support ASP.NET MVC features. These features include controllers, routing, action results, model binders, filter, and dependency injection.
They support self-hosting and IIS hosting.
Web APIs accept and generate content that might not be object-oriented such as PDF files and images.
We have seen that a Web API works on HTTP and can be called by any kind of an application such as a mobile or desktop app as well as web applications. This means that developing a Web API gets you a broad range of interface applications for the consumption of the Web API. It is therefore important for businesses to develop and use the right Web APIs for their interactions to make sure that they reap both the business and technical benefits of a Web API.