What is an API Endpoint?

Mon May 16 2022

4 min read

An API provides different points of access for different resources. These are called API endpoints, which are URLs used to send requests and receive data from the API. REST APIs have a base URL combined with a name to access the API endpoints. The base URL stays the same while the name changes for each endpoint.

What is an API?

The Application Programming Interface (API) is like a middle man connecting two sides. It is like a waiter who takes your order and brings you food, connecting the guests with the kitchen. So, it provides a channel that applications utilize to talk with each other. You put some information at one end, and the API takes that information and gets back with a result.

Today, countless APIs are available on the world wide web, providing access to all kinds of data. They have become essential to software applications today. You can use them to build web, desktop, mobile applications, CLI tools, extensions, etc.

What is an API Endpoint?

In REST APIs, API endpoints are URLs that act as access points to an API and its resources. When clients interact with an API, they send a request to an endpoint. The API For example, here are some endpoints of the Word API on RapidAPI Hub.

  • /words: Returns a list of words.

  • /synonyms: Returns synonyms for a word.

  • /definitions: Returns definitions for a word.

  • /examples: Returns examples for a word.

As you can guess, every one of the above endpoints returns a different type of data. That is what endpoints do; they work as access points to the various resources provided by the API. When we want to send a request to the API, we need to add the endpoint to the API's base URL. For example, if the endpoint is /words and the base URL of the API is https://wordsapiv1.p.rapidapi.com, we will send the request at https://wordsapiv1.p.rapidapi.com/words, which is the complete endpoint URL.

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There is no better way to learn about endpoints than to try them. Try the following interactive component to see how different endpoints fetch different kinds of data.

Example Blog API

Choose an endpoint:
Get data of a user
Get posts of a user

Components of an API Endpoint

Before interacting with an API, we must review its documentation to see the available endpoints. The concept is simple; you select the endpoint which gives you the required data. API documentation includes detail for every endpoint to facilitate this, consisting of the following components.

  • Description: Short human-readable detail on the data accepted or returned by the endpoint.

  • HTTP Method: The HTTP verb used to request the endpoint, such as GET, POST, PUT, etc.

  • Headers and Parameters: Detail about the required headers and parameters to access the information.

In addition to the above, there can be other helpful information such as code snippets and example responses of the endpoint. For example, take a look at the following image that shows the endpoints of the Random Stuff API on RapidAPI Hub. There is a list of available endpoints, the details of the selected endpoint, code snippets and more.

Why are they important?

At the end of the day, an API's purpose is to deliver information; and endpoints are the gateways for this information. They direct you to the required resources in the API. They also help keep the API organized and structured.

Wrap Up

That's pretty much it. We hope that you are now well aware of API endpoints. If you have reached this far, you are ready to start using APIs in your applications.

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