What is an API Key?

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What is an API Key?
Application Program Interface (API) Key or also known as Application Programming Interface Key is a series of code produced by websites to allow users to access the website’s API.  It is a Universal Unique Identifier (UUID) generated by site’s system. It is 32-bit alpha-numeric string.

What is API?
API is not a user-interface but more likely a software-to-software interface. It is a series of code, protocols that allows the computer software to communicate with other software.

Application Programming Interface can be classified into two:

  1. Language Dependent API ‘“ This type of Application Program Interface is only available in one particular programming language.
  2. Language Independent API ‘“ this type of Application Program Interface is not restricted to use multiple programming languages.  It can use different languages with different processes.

Application Programming Interface is essential for building and developing programs. Developers use API to create or boost their programs. The best example for this is Microsoft DirectX. API’s are released by the software company to the users in the form of Software Development Kit (SDK). Licensing API’s restricts the creation of tools for commercial use.

API keys are found in most websites that render services. For example, if a user ordering a certain item on Ebay and used Paypal to pay those items, Paypal will send an email containing the info as well as an API that confirms the user made a purchase. API keys are also powerful tools to detect and to track API’s that is used for malicious transactions and abuse to the terms of service.

How to use API keys?
API keys are used to gain access to a certain system or to a certain database. It will provide the opportunity to explore that certain system and build processes in which the user can control.

There are two types of API Keys:

  1. Limited Access ‘“ this type allows you to use applications from websites that will display less information.
  2. Full Access ‘“ this type allows you to use application and requires much information from the user but it gives wide variety of options and privileges.

The user will just have to paste to combination of numbers that a certain tool asks.

Where are API keys used?
Some API key providers like Google, shares its arrays of information to users by using API keys. Using API keys for Google enhance website owners to target traffic in their sites.

Google allows users to access a thousand queries a day. Some developers that links Google resources, require users to use API keys to have access to their tools which be needed for a particular service that a site has to offer.

If a user has already acquired a key, (for Google, you can acquire free keys at www.google.com/apis) the only thing that a user have to do is to locate the website that houses the application then the user can plug in the said website. This key is like a universal password. There’s lots of plug-ins now that can use database-driven sites and can only be accessed by an API key.