The general concept of a web API (application programming interface) has two main interpretations. It is used to refer to both a server-side API upon a web server as well as client-side API within a web browser.
A server-side web API is a programmatic interface to a defined request-response message system, typically expressed in JSON or XML, which is exposed via the web—most commonly by means of an HTTP-based web server. Mashups are web applications which combine the use of multiple such web APIs. Webhooks are server-side web APIs that take as input a URI that is designed to be used like a remote named pipe or a type of callback such that the server acts as a client to dereference the provided URI and trigger an event on another server which handles this event thus providing a type of peer-to-peer IPC.
While "web API" in this context is sometimes considered a synonym for web service, Web 2.0 web applications have moved away from SOAP-based web services towards more cohesive collections of RESTful web resources. These RESTful web APIs are accessible via standard HTTP methods by a variety of HTTP clients including browsers and mobile devices.
Google created their Native Client architecture which is designed to help replace insecure native plug-ins with secure native sandboxed extensions and applications. They have also made this portable by employing a modified LLVM AOT compiler.
- Jacobson, Daniel; Woods, Dan; Brail, Greg (November 2011). APIs a strategy guide. Sebastopol, Calif: O'Reilly Media. ISBN 978-1-4493-0892-6.
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