Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are ready-made sets of code building blocks that allow a developer to implement programs in a much easier fashion.
Browser APIs are built into your web browser and are able to expose data from the surrounding computer environment. A good example of this is a geolocation API, which retrieves geographical information. Google Maps is able to find your location and put it on a map. Another example is the DOM API—every time you see a popup window on your page, or some new content displayed, that’s the DOM in action. The Canvas and WebGL APIs allow you to create animated 2D and 3D graphics. Audio and Video APIs enable you to play audio and video on a web page, or grab video from a web camera and play it on someone else’s computer.
Third-party APIs are not built into the browser by default, so you need to grab their code and information from somewhere on the Web. An example of this would be if Twitter allows you to embed your latest tweet on your website, or Google Maps allows you to embed custom maps into your website.
While the client-side aspect has its advantages, it can cause its lapses in security. Since the code executes on the person’s computer, it can be exploited. A certain restriction is set by modern web standards on browsers, but malicious code can still make its way past those restrictions.
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They develop new user-facing features, build reusable code and libraries, optimize applications for maximum speed and scalability and ensure that user input is validated before submitting to back-end services.
They must also have the traits that all employers look for in a good developer. They must be driven, self-motivated, good at communicating, detail oriented as well as big-picture oriented. They should have a knowledge of math, logic, and abstraction. Above all, they must be willing to put in some time outside of work hours to sharpen their skills.
This article is part of WorkingNation Associate Producer Jaimie Stevens’ “Starting Out in Tech” series where she shares her insight into becoming a computer programmer. Catch up on her previous articles here.
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