What is the difference between API and IDE?

Both API and IDE are used in the development of software programs. Even though both are used for software development, they have differences when you consider about the facilities they provide and how they behave.

What is API (Application Programming Interface)?

API or Application Programming Interface provides an interface to communicate with one or many software applications. One company may write and publish an API for their software to be used with any other software that is required to use it.

Most of the times APIs are used in web-based systems. For an example, an e-commerce company can write an API of their software service to be used on other third party sites, to display randomly chosen items, prices, categories and links to buy them. Therefore, the API provided by the e-commerce company creates a link between the two sites by providing an interface to the site through the third party sites that use it.

The system that uses the API does not need to write the codes from the scratch. It provides a rich collection of class libraries and modules that can be reused by the developers. Therefore, it fastens the development and increases the re-usability.

Java API is an example of this kind of API. Those APIs are used in advertising (Google AdSense), location services (Google Maps), e-commerce sites (Amazon), Windows applications etc. In summary, APIs are programmed services or libraries, and not an executable software.

What is IDE (Integrated Development Environment)?

IDE or Integrated Development Environment is a rich and powerful environment that allows developing complete software programming. In most of the cases, IDEs are language dependent, or at least customizable to a particular development environment.

It provides code suggestions, code hinting and debugging tools based on the language we are coding. Most of those IDEs provide version control, design tools and software package creation and documentation tools.

IDEs facilitate us with the integration of multiple software projects that sometimes may be used in large-scale software projects. If someone created a project using an IDE, then it is easier to deploy the project and remotely debug and release update patches, as well. Some of the widely used IDEs are Microsoft Visual Studio and NetBeans.

Difference Between API and IDE

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Differential Points

• APIs provide a communication layer between two applications; one being developed and one already developed.

• IDEs, being a development environment, are used to develop software programs from the scratch.

• APIs can be considered as software that provides a required service or as a library.

• IDEs comes with debugging, designing, version control and other useful tools to write programs.

• API is not a development environment.

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