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Old 04-07-21, 04:26 PM
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Seattle Forrest
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
Good to know I'm not alone. Heck, we may be the majority.
API = application programming interface. It's the last word that's important.

An API is the way programs allow programmers to ask the programs to do something.

If you want to display a picture on the screen, there's a lot that has to happen, and you don't have to write most of it yourself. The computer needs to get the image data from a file, from the internet, or wherever, decode the way it's stored into something that can be displayed, and show it.

An API is the way you ask the operating system to do that. The API doesn't say how to do it. How to do it is what programmers are paid to write code for. How to do it is subject to copyright. How to ask for it to be done is what's at issue here. It's a little bit like how your house is your private property and your address isn't. Your address is basically how to get to the important part.

One API might require you to carry out a task in 3 steps, and another might let you do everything with one command. If you want to display a picture, maybe you have to load the image into memory first because the API for drawing on the screen requires an image; a different API will accept a file name or url instead of the 1s and 0s that make up the image. It's just two ways of asking other software to do the same thing.

Being able to copy an API (but still having to do the work of telling the computer how to carry those tasks out) means programmers can write their programs once and they can be used in more than one context, ie their programs can work with more than just one other program. Not being able to do that means those programmers have to write code specific to each context. Which means either their software is more expensive and less innovative, it's of lower quality, or it just doesn't support as much and is less useful.

I don't know if that's any more clear or not, I hope it helps a little.
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