Video: What is an API?

Adam DuVander
May. 30 2013, 08:42AM EDT

For those of us paying attention to APIs for awhile, we're used to the question: what is an API? When I felt my answer wasn't good enough, I made up a new acronym and started telling people that API stands for Apps, Partners, Income. Recently I cornered five API experts to ask them the same question. The video below shows how they answered the question.

What is an API?

As you see, there are at least five different answers, from the technical ("an interface") to the business-y ("focus on what you do best") to the romantic ("it makes the Internet better").

Thanks to Jeffrey Shaubschlager, James Tamplin, Steven Willmott, Mehdi Medjaoui and especially John Sheehan, who let me keep his outtake in the video.

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.