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What is an API ? Introduction, Types, Architectures, Role and Future.

When we use applications like Ola, Uber or Zomato we see a map. In the case of Ola we can track the current location of our driver.But, does Ola have a satellite in space which tells the current location of the person in the map. The answer is a big NO!!! These applications are using the map services provided by the Google Maps Application. But, Ola can not directly access the data of google maps because of security reasons. That’s why Google has kept a security layer in between which is known as Google Maps API. So, to access google maps data and services Ola will access this API. On account of this, we can think of API as a messenger which delivers data from one place to another.

In this Blog, we will talk about API their types, architectures, roles and future.

 

What is an API?
API stands for Application Programming interface which is an intermediary software that allows two applications to share data and services. It’s a set of rules and definitions for creating and integrating software applications. Every time you use Instagram, Facebook, and Zomato you are using an API.

In other words, API gives us the answer of What and not How. To understand this statement let’s take a real life example. When we go to a restaurant we see a menu and order the food according to it and the waiter works as the API and goes to the kitchen counter and requests for the dish we ordered and if that dish is present it brings our order otherwise tells us that the dish can not be served. Likely, When an application will send a request to an API asking for some data, the API will then send this request to its server and then the server will either accept the request and send the required data to the API or will reject the request and will send the corresponding error. Consequently, the API that gets the data from the server will manipulate it in the required format and then will send the data to the application or will return the error which it received from the server.

When you browse web pages over the internet, the same type of request/response cycle works.You send a request using the browser the browser then requests the server for data and then sends the response it got from the server. The only major difference in case of web pages is the data returned is in HTML, CSS, or JavaScript format and in the case of an API it will be in raw format i.e JSON or XML.

 

Let’s see some examples where you can use an API

  • An iPhone app which needs camera access to take photographs(Like Snapchat or Instagram): To provide the camera feature to your app you don’t have to write the code to integrate it. Rather, you can use the camera API provided by the iPhone operating system.This promotes the rapid development of your application and avoids doing everything from scratch.
  • A website with a login feature: To provide the logic feature to your website to make your application secure and reliable instead of making it from scratch you can integrate APIs offered by Google and Facebook to provide features like Login with Google or Login with Facebook. This helps you with two things.Firstly you don’t have to write the login feature code from scratch and secondly it saves you from the tedious job of checking the authenticity of the user, as now it is Google and Facebook’s job.
  • A website with a payment gateway: If you are making an eCommerce website and you want to have an option for online payment you can use the API offered by PayPal and give the option to Pay using PayPal to make online payments.

 

What are the types of APIs available?
On the basis of access and scope of use, APIs can be categorized in 4 types.

1. Open APIs

Open APIs are also known as External API or Public API and as the name suggests they are open to use means they are accessible by any developer to use and integrate in their application. Since they are open they provide less authentication and authorization measures.

2. Partner APIs

Partner APIs, as the name suggests are those APIs which are shared among business partners with mutual decision. Because they are available to only authorized clients they are safer as compared to Open APIs.

3. Internal APIs

Internal APIs are those APIs, which are unlike Open or External APIs not available to other users and can be used by 3rd parties. They are made to use in a company to streamline the process of sharing data among the employees of its company only.

4. Composite APIs

Composite APIs combine various APIs, allowing developers to combine calls or requests together and obtain a single unified response from multiple servers. A composite API is used when you need data from multiple apps or data sources.

 

What are the various kinds of API architectures that are currently in use?
The rules that govern what information an API can share with clients and how it communicates data constitute an API’s architecture. The most widely used API architectures nowadays are REST, SOAP, and RPC.

1.  REST

REST stands for representational state transfer and is a set of rules for making APIs that are scalable, lightweight, and simple to use. A REST API (or “RESTful” API) is a data transmission API that meets the REST standards and is used to send data from a server to a requesting client. Client-server isolation, a consistent interface, a stateless, layered system, and cacheability are all guidelines to follow.

2.  SOAP

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is a network data transmission protocol that can be used to create APIs. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has standardized SOAP, which uses XML to encode data. SOAP specifies how messages should be sent and what information must be included. SOAP APIs are therefore more secure than REST APIs, despite the fact that the strict rules make them more code-heavy and difficult to implement in general.

3.  RPC

The RPC protocol (Remote Procedural Call) is the simplest of the three designs. RPC APIs, unlike REST and SOAP, which permit data transfer, invoke processes. To put it another way, they run scripts on a server. In its calls, RPC APIs can use either JSON (a JSON-RPC protocol) or XML (an XML-RPC protocol). Although XML is more secure and flexible than JSON, the two protocols are otherwise very comparable. The RPC protocol is a reasonably simple and easy technique to run code on remote networks, despite its strictness.

 

What role do APIs play in the growth of digital businesses?

APIs are the primary integration mechanism in the distributed cloud-native development environment, offering developers and the applications they produce a number of benefits, including:

  • APIs simplify otherwise complex connections, allowing developers to adapt rapidly to changing requirements and shortening the development cycle.
  • Because of their low cost and simplicity, APIs foster experimentation and innovation.
  • APIs simplify communication between applications and services, eliminating the need for manual processes, phone calls, faxes, and time-consuming point-to-point connections.
  • API designs can be reused as building pieces, increasing scalability and accelerating the development process.

 

Why does it appear like APIs are the way of the future?

Developers nowadays primarily use APIs to connect across services, create integrations, and send data to third-party customers. APIs will become increasingly crucial in the future.
It was good a few years ago if your application had a public API; now it is virtually a requirement, and in a few years, it will be required. APIs are a terrific way to transfer information between different programmes as they become increasingly integrated.
It doesn’t matter if the app you need data from is written in PHP, NodeJS, Go, or C#; as long as it has an API, getting the data you require is simple.

 

Conclusion
When we approach APIs not only from the perspective of software development but also from the perspective of business collaboration, they play a far larger role. These resource-exchange machine-readable interfaces are similar to delivery services that operate behind the scenes and provide the necessary technological connectivity.
In the current condition, digitally aware firms rely largely on private, public, or partner APIs to function. APIs produce 50 percent of income for Salesforce, 60 percent for eBay, and 90 percent for Expedia. As a result, infrastructure service providers must fully utilize the capabilities of an API-powered infrastructure platform to stay ahead of the market and competition.

 

Startxlabs, one of India’s top digital transformation service providers. Launched in 2014, Startxlabs aims in innovating a digital future by developing technology for the web and mobile platforms. From our beginning as a technology development company, we’ve tried to stay true to our core beliefs and to deliver exceptional services to our clients. Whether it’s people we work for or people who work for us, we value honesty, passion, and the desire to explore. We have expertise in website development, android app development, iOS app development, Flutter, React Native app development, UI/UX design, and marketing strategy. With the engagement of our highly technical team, we have delivered over 110+ projects providing a positive impact on the users.

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Fast API vs Flask vs Django

Though the names are different, these three frameworks FastAPI, Flask, and Django have a common similarity in that is they are web frameworks written using the Python language. These three frameworks have been used by developers for a variety of purposes. The three frameworks have distinct features that serve the best in development. Let us look at how these frameworks differ from each other in this article.

FastAPI

Fast API is a Python-based web framework that enables us to use the REST interface in development. It is a fast and high-performance framework to build APIs with the latest Python 3.6+, created by Sebastian Ramirez. Some of the popular features of the FastAPI include:

  • Fast: As the name indicates, Fast API is the very fastest framework in Python with higher performance similar to NodeJS and GO.
  • Faster Coding: Development speed has been increased from 200% to 300%
  • Fewer Bugs: Human-made errors are reduced by 40%. Debugging time is less.
  • Easy and Short: The framework is easy to use and it has less code duplication. So each parameter has multiple features and very few bugs.
  • Robust: It provides automatic interactive documentation along with production-ready code.
  • Standards: The framework is based on the OpenAPI and JSON Schema.
  • Editor support: FastAPI is intuitive to use and the feature “Autocompletion” remains a favorite for all.

Pros:

  • FastAPI offers validation of the developer’s data types and the deeply nested JSON requests.
  • FastAPI has been developed using standards such as OAuth 2.0, JSON Schema, and OpenAPI.
  • Building GraphQLAPI with graphene-python, a python library is easy using FastAPI.

Cons:

  • It has a small community and lesser educational resources, as it newly emerges.

Read our article on – Python Basics: Data types

Flask

Flask is a Python-based micro web framework for developing web applications. It was created by Armin Ronacher. Since it is a microframework, it doesn’t have particular tools, libraries, or ORM (Object Relational Manager). Flask is a WSGI (webServer Gateway Interface) web application framework and doesn’t have features like template engine, routing, and more. The framework is based on WSGI and the Jinja2 template engine. Some of the notable features of flask include:

  • Pythonic: Flask is entirely based on Python and very easy to get started with.
  • Simple: Since Flask is a micro-framework, it is very simple and also extensible.
  • Updated: Flask is a modern framework and its features are up-to-date.
  • Readability: The framework is very explicit and it has better readability.
  • Less complexity: You can save your program on multiple files, reducing the complexity.

Pros:

  • Flask is more comfortable and flexible for the developers to use.
  • Unit testing is possible with Flask. It enables you to tweak extensions and transit to a web framework.
  • Flask is very simple and beginner-friendly.
  • It lets you create apps faster and with minimal effort.

Cons:

  • Security is a concern here as it uses modules that cause third-party involvement.
  • Flask has a single source and multiple requests take time as it processes them one after the other.

Django

Django is also a python based web framework that uses the MTV (Model Template View) architectural pattern. It is an open-source framework developed by Adrian Holovaty and Simon Willison in 2005. The top features of Django include:

  • Well documented: It is a well-established framework for the developers as it provides excellent documentation.
  • Python-based: Since it is python based, Django is simple and easy to use.
  • SEO Optimized: Django helps in maintaining the website through URLs which makes it efficient and easy for SEO engineers.
  • Scalability: The level of implementation using Django is high. It helps in creating applications with greater precision and error-free.
  • Security: Django provides security with expertise level of code.

Pros:

  • The code structure of Django is efficient and using this, it is very easy to infuse more functionalities into the websites for the developers.
  • Django is more flexible as it uses the Rest framework called Django Rest Framework (DRF).
  • With Django, it is easy to build web APIs since it has a customizable and modular architecture.
  • Django ensures security by protecting against joint SQL injection and forgery attacks from cross-site requests.

Cons:

  • With Django, the speed is limited because of more reusable modules.

Read our article on – Python Basics: Functions and Variable Scopes

We have seen the three frameworks separately and let’s compare them with each other now.

Features

  • FastAPI
    • Packages – Minimalistic framework that doesn’t have reusability enabling packages.
    • Community – Has small community
    • Performance – High performant and faster
    • Job Openings – Fewer opportunities
    • Education – Easiest to learn but has very few online resources
  • Flask
    • Packages – Minimalistic framework that doesn’t have reusability enabling packages.
    • Community – Has a moderate, thriving community
    • Performance – Moderate in speed
    • Job Openings – Moderate
    • Education – Easy to learn and has many online materials.
  • Django
    • Packages – Full-stack web development framework that has reusability enabling packages.
    • Community – Has the most significant community.
    • Performance – Not so fast
    • Job Openings – More opportunities for job
    • Education – Learning Django is a bit harder but has many online resources available.

Conclusion

All three frameworks are effective for developing web applications as all the three are python based web frameworks. However, choosing the right one for you is in your hand. If you are looking to develop a full-stack website with high performance and functionalities, you can opt for Django. If you are aiming on developing a prototype for a web application and APIs or someone interested in machine learning, then Flask is ideal for you. FastAPI is suitable for someone who wants to focus on speed and scalability. Otherwise, all the three are good and suit you according to your requirements.

“We transform your idea into reality, reach out to us to discuss it.

Or wanna join our cool team email us at hr@startxlabs.com or see careers at Startxlabs.”

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Web Scraping using Python – A Beginner’s Guide

Python helps in doing a number of things nowadays. Likewise, it establishes its importance in web scrapping. Web scrapping deals with extracting data from the web, manipulating and cleaning the data. This article will help you in learning about Web scrapping and how it is done using Python libraries.

What is Web Scraping?

An automated method that extracts an enormous amount of data from websites called Web Scraping. The data available on the websites are usually in the form of unstructured data. The web scraping method collects them and stores them as structured data. There are many ways to perform web scraping. One of the most popular ways is by using Python.

Read our article on Fast API vs Flask vs Django

Why Web Scraping?

We have seen that collecting a large amount of data from websites is called web scraping. However, why do we have to collect them? What is the purpose of web scraping? Let’s answer these questions below. Here are some of the applications of web scraping:

  • Social media analysis: Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram handle loads and loads of trending data every day. Web scraping these social media websites reveals data about the latest information such as trending topics, sentiments, and more.
  • Price Comparison on eCommerce: eCommerce sellers usually have different prices at different marketplaces. Using web scraping they can compare pricing on multiple platforms and analyze the places for getting higher profit.
  • Real Estate Investment: Web scraping helps real estate investors to analyze different marketplaces by getting valuable information from websites such as high-rated areas, attractive renting options, and more.
  • Machine Learning: Machine Learning needs enormous data to learn and improve. Web scraping helps in collecting many texts, images, and data points quickly and that can be used in improving reliability and accuracy in machine learning.
  • Email address collection: Email marketing is one of the most used forms of marketing by many companies. Using scraping, they collect a large number of email addresses and use them for sending bulk emails for marketing purposes.
  • Job listings: Job update information such as job openings, interviews, and dates are collected from various websites and listed in a single place. Users can easily browse all information about job updates in one place.

Is Python Good for Web Scraping?

Among all, Python is good for scraping websites to collect an enormous amount of data. Here are the reasons below.

  • Simplicity: As we know, Python is the easiest and simplest language to code. No need to use curly braces, semicolons and no need to declare data types which makes the code appear clearer and saves time.
  • Huge libraries: There are plenty of libraries available in Python such as Panda, Numpy, Matplotlib, and more. Due to the large availability of libraries, web scraping is easy for data extraction and manipulation using Python.
  • Easy syntax: Since Python is a high-level language, it is easily readable and the syntax is easily understandable. You can write smaller code for performing larger tasks.
  • Larger Community: Python community is one of the largest and you can seek help from it whenever you face issues while writing code.

Read our article on Python Basics: Datatypes

Steps used in Web Scraping:

Developing the code for performing web scraping depends on your style. However, the process while executing the code remains the same for all. Once you run your code, the URL of the website you wanted to scrap receives a request. As a response to it, the server sends back the data and lets you read the website’s HTML or XML code. The HTML code then gets parsed and you can find the data and extract it. Extracting the website’s data involves the following steps:

  • You have to find the exact URL of the website you wanted to scrap.
  • Inspect the page.
  • Find the data you wanted to scrap from the page.
  • Write the code accordingly.
  • Now, run the code and scrap the data.
  • Store the extracted data in the format you require.

“We transform your idea into reality, reach out to us to discuss it.

Or wanna join our cool team email us at hr@startxlabs.com or see careers at Startxlabs.”

 

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Django Basics and Structure

Django is an open-source, fully-featured Python-based framework initially released on 21 July 2005 by Django Software Foundation. This framework helps in building complex web apps by following MTV (Model Template Views) architectural patterns. Django primarily focuses on developing complex websites, also ensuring certain features such as reusability, pluggability, less code, less coupling, quicker development, and more. Django also provides an effective interface that allows users to manage admin controls such as create, read, delete and update. Some of the popular sites that utilize the Django framework are Instagram, The Washington Times, Disqus, Nextdoor, PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), Bitbucket, and Mozilla.

Why Django?

In an era where frameworks are abundantly available for web and app development, why does Django stand as an effective choice among the others? There are plenty of answers to this question. Let’s see some of them below.

Django is written in Python, which is a user-friendly and most-readable programmable language that makes it more suitable for web development. Django stands first because of the outstanding features it provides. While developing a website in Django, you don’t need to seek help from external packages or libraries, as working with Django syntax is seamless and makes you feel like using a single framework. Want to add some more features to enhance your website? Of course, you can use a variety of external libraries in Django.

Django’s in-depth documentation provides clear and detailed documentation about every feature of Django with great examples and tutorials.

Got stuck in the middle of your website development? Django provides an excellent community of developers for this, to whom you can ask for help either by document checking or by asking them.

Django Website’s Structure

A single project in Django will be divided into separate apps. Each app on the project manages separate functions of the website. Let’s say, if you are building a social app, it will consist of v