API vs. Library - A Simple Comparison With Examples


Understanding code for building tremendous and responsive websites or applications could have many confusing things for developers.

It can be an innovative addition of code-language with exceptional features’ development capacity, which developers know as new skills to add and become confused with different terms embedded in it.

However, the second phase of confession for both entry and expert level developers is about two different but closely related developmental terms, i.e., difference between API and SDK.

Similarly, the difference between API and library can drive confusion in many ways that matter a lot while understanding development.

So, how did you resolve this API vs. Library puzzle?

Are you also confused and haven’t succeeded yet in comprehending the actual convulsion?

Don’t worry anymore!

We’ve detailed the complete skeleton of API and Library below, with suitable examples and their modifications.

You’ll be logically figuring out how an API is an integral part of a library and how a library is not considered to classify as an API.

Let’s have fun solving this to help you use them in future development projects more deeply!

What is an API and What does it do?

“Application Programming Interface, better known as API, is a coded pattern of different languages designed to connect one application with another by communicating different queries asked by users.”

APIs have a direct hand in making public and private applications/websites feature-full + responsive due to lightweight back-end coding and engaging interface.

You’ll be using APIs for imparting specific functions in a website, such as chatting, location-chasing, live-stock prediction, shipping, payments, and more.

Dealing with different types of APIs is not even complex. They come with various libraries of code (specialized in initiating feature’s functioning) and multiple languages switching options to insert these code chunks with actual code effectively.

Developers today are more dependent on API usage. API is a package of different functions and codes that developers pick and join in the back-end.

So, instead of coding the same function address hundreds of times, one API code will be sufficient to entertain one particular call professionally.

It saves time, turns website weight extremely light, makes UX/UI highly adaptive, and transforms an ordinary-looking website/app into a customer-friendly online business!

→ Advantages of Using an API

Management Automation: Once you’ve added APIs for answering customer queries, sharing weekly tasks with employees, getting monthly updates of salary distributions including appropriate leave+extra-duty details, monitoring marketing tactics, and sending daily newsletters and emails to subscribers, there’s no need for human management left.

It ultimately makes an enterprise’s entire management automated and even more innovative..

Service Flexibility: APIs can better communicate and understand users' requirements with simplistic code chunks and immediately connect different apps/web-backends to answer users correctly. Online services have become more flexible and drive good experiences for first-time and long-term internet customers, trust the brand and always reach out.

Widespread Information Sharing: Now connect APIs with official or governmental portals to directly catch the latest notifications and announcements; whoever wants to get them. There’s no limitation for specific people to reach these websites.

Development Ease: Developers are excitedly happy with the launch of APIs in the development world. It reduces hectic code writing time and makes it simple. Developers can build website’s efficiency professionally with APIs by integrating more than average features.

→ Types of API

Based on availability mode and ability to perform specialized tasks, APIs are classified into four major categories.

1. Public

APIs that are publically available without requiring any confidential key or identification, such as many API tools, are classified as public.

Developers/users can get the code from them by merely reaching them. These APIs can be equal in service with private API features and can be deficient in features that are only available in submitting subscription fees.

2. Partner

These bridge-forming APIs are categorized based on their capacity of joining more than one company/business for data exchange.

For entrance, a specific key or license is required to start with a code. Further, no shared data could be leaked from connected businesses pipelines.

3. Internal

Internal APIs are used within businesses to communicate with developers to perform at the same peak following the same data and instructions.

4. Composite

A perfect or self-made blend of different APIs to quickly add with the back-end to stand development being applied at a great pace always comes in the form of composite APIs.

What is a Library and What does it do?

“Libraries and frameworks both possess an API for connecting their code across two applications. The API is the exposed part of any library or framework with which your software communicates; it is composed of a complete set of translations of the openly announced classes, orders, and characteristics.”

In other words: Libraries are reusable code chunks that developers can use to implement a task/feature in websites.

These implemented tasks then get connected through APIs that are specific to specific libraries.

Developers can call library information for conducting an action (in response) that API functionally triggers. This procedure involves API documentation which is part of the virtual library and works as an expression or interface to library code for executing tasks.

→ Advantages of Using a Library

Using APIs to upgrade their development experience or make websites super satisfied for users denotes the same advantages one can get from using libraries.

However, some advantages of libraries are discussed below:

Prevent Development Collapse: Instead of letting developers apply layers of code for nurturing the same task repeatedly coming into the project, libraries prevent development collapse by presenting short reusable code chunks.

Encourage Content Upgradations: Library code implemented at software-backed reduces the effort of regularly upgrading/refreshing content uploaded. It can be automatically refreshed with library upgrading from another port.

Lessen Ordinariness: Libraries are complex and have different types, with each type holding an appreciated approach of facilitating development. It, therefore, lessens ordinary components to rise in programs.

→ Types of Library

1. Client-side and UI libraries

Client-side libraries are used during front-end development and have code made of code that is stronger to express and engage views due to flexibility in front-end features. It makes the visibility of features more dynamic; hence, it adds in User Interface, also known as UI libraries.

2. Server-side libraries

A server-side library principally employs a programming language including a compiler and operates on a Web server, like Node, PHP, and ASP.NET. These code chunks are structures in that they pile up advanced APIs for client-side scripting on the head of the rule and establish APIs that web browsers give.

API Vs. Library Examples

An API can be conceived as the legitimate description of the extensive library or the compatible form that defines what a developer can do with the library.

It is the portion of the code that is available to developers. The main opposition is that the library belongs to the system's code itself, while API belongs to the interface.

Image Source: stackoverflow

When software development toolkits for a particular system are taken collectively as one container, this is what is attributed to an SDK (Software Development Kit).

An API can be composed of many libraries to make a precise performance. However, a library by itself is not an API but preferably a combination of valuable procedures or duties.

Following the same concept, we can further add a fundamental framework that executes building applications more dynamically.

API Library
1. It’s a set of protocols that are punctual in expressing codes of different libraries.
2. It comes as connection points
3. It is made of different libraries specified for different functions and cannot be treated as an effective API without owning libraries.
1. It’s a reusable code chunk that can be implemented to merge features in a website.
2. It’s a code itself.
3. It cannot be treated as an API for complete site formation.

Do you have to choose between API and Library?

To access a website health and performance graph professionally, you would require different APIs made of various libraries. These libraries will grant you the ability to perform particular tasks on the website.

Users have their preference for choosing an API based on its quality and specifications.

Suppose it’s any stock website where financial data editing is required using mathematical expressions (percentage, ratios, subtractions, and additions). In that case, only the API will be selected, which responsibly allows these functions implementing libraries (math library) and clarifies that no specific selection is necessary to choose between API and library.

They both make an expression functional and described.

FAQs about API and Library

Is an API not the same as a library?

Considering the above discussion, we’ve concluded that API and Library have a 1:1 difference, making it complicated for developers to understand Library vs. API. This confusion can grow further if not resolved. Hence, API shows many differences when comparing with a library.

They both can't be categorized as the same thing. Because a library is the actual code-base, the API gets the interference for expressing that code on the website the way that particular library is designed.

It makes a clear sense that the library is responsible for code implementation and API drives that code to develop connections among apps for better features integration.

Why is this difference important anyways?

The difference is essential to thoroughly understand when to use API vs. library and development dimensions in which API holds a significant proportion. Since the library term evolved with the API term, therefore many found confusion during differentiation.

However, the above-detailed discussion ponders this fact intellectually. It provides the answer that every developer must know that the code he is using is the library's exposed part, which gives its interface access for expressing a feature or function on the website.

It eventually makes this topic important for the non-technical community to discuss professionally with developers when involving APIs in the project.