What is an API (application programming interface)?

API stands for Application Programming Interface. What an API is, can best be described as a standardised agreed upon way two applications can "talk" to each other.


API explained

Two or more applications can "talk" to each other in the sense that one application can send a request to the other application (for example when a user clicks a button to see the latest status of his or her account), the other application will send the results back.


The interface part of the definition is a set of code definitions that both applications have to agree upon. Usually there is one application that sets the definitions that are described in an API document. For example the Facebook Ads application allows the Cervinodata application to retrieve specific campaign related data from the Facebook Ads application, when the Cervinodata talks exactly as described in these API documents.

API definition Wikipedia

According to Wikipedia, an application programming interface is the following: "An application programming interface (API) is a computing interface which defines interactions between multiple software intermediaries. It defines the kinds of calls or requests that can be made, how to make them, the data formats that should be used, the conventions to follow, etc."

How to secure the application programming interface?

Most API's require some kind of access codes to be able to retrieve information to the application programming interface or to insert, update or delete certain information. Usual forms of security are:

  • An API key: This is an array of characters that you need to send along with your request. If the API key is correct, the application will perform the action that it is asked to do.
  • An API secret: In most cases the API key is only part of the array of characters required. The API secret is the second part. Only when both the API key and the API secret are put together, the application will perform the required task.
  • OAuth: OAuth is an open standard authorisation protocol that uses authorisation tokens to provide a secure identity between a user (a person) and an application. This is a different way of giving secure access just by signing in with a username and password. In the background, OAuth arranges all the keys, so you don't have to bother. The main difference is that OAuth arranges the security between a user and an application, where the API key & secret are used to secure the communication between two or more applications.

What is an API client?

An API client is like a shortcut to the definitions that allows your application to talk with the application programming interface of the other application. For instance, The Cervinodata application has a API client library for Java that you can quickly incorporate in your programming project. This will save you time when building an application.


Cervinodata has API clients for multiple programming languages:

Or get the code directly from Github. These API clients enable you to retrieve advertising campaign metrics from multiple ad accounts (from the same or different platforms) without having to write code for each account of platform. This will save a lot of time setting up and maintaining your application.

Github Cervinodata python api

Get started. For free

Get all your online campaign performance stats organised in Google Data Studio, Klipfolio and BigQuery. Or in your own application.