Microservices vs API: Understanding The Basics And Differences

Most of the time, for supporting web apps, APIs, web servers, and microservices play an underlying role to connect an ordinary looking layout of an app with cus

Microservices vs API: Understanding The Basics And Differences

Sep 30, 2022 2:46 AM - Jack Dalton

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Image credit: Lewis Kang'ethe Ngugi

Most of the time, for supporting web apps, APIs, web servers, and microservices play an underlying role to connect an ordinary looking layout of an app with customer retaining features.

But to use these technologies practically, you must understand the basic difference between their framework, way of connecting features with apps, and specialities.

Usually, people mix the separate terms used for microservices and APIs, and hence their implementation goes wrong.

Here in this guide, we have highlighted comprehensively the term “microservices vs API”, to let beginners know the difference between them. All the perspectives with examples are explained. So that you fulfil the purpose of upgrading apps in an authentic direction.

Let's hit the details below!

Key Difference Between Microservices vs APIs:

Here are two concepts narrated to help you detect differences between microservices and APIs.

First, by definition, the definitions of APIs and web services are:

Web Services: Web services provide the capability to send data over HTTP, which is a type of protocol for transferring information on the internet. This includes things like location data, contact info, and other metadata about your business.

APIs: An API (Application Programming Interface) is more than just an interface as it also has instructions for doing something with that information once you get it back from the server. You could use this interface to order pizza or reserve a flight reservation without having to go through all those steps manually on their site.

Secondly, based on further other things, APIs are different from web services because:

The key difference between microservices and APIs is that microservices are designed for handling specific tasks, while APIs are designed to provide access to data. Microservices can be used to process input, transform it, and then pass it off to another service for further processing. This can help break down a complex process into smaller, more manageable tasks. APIs, on the other hand, are used to provide access to data from a server. This data can be used to power a website or application.

What Are Microservices?

Microservices are the new software architecture that is used to manage complex cloud-based applications.

There is a cluster of different microservices, each with one responsibility. Microservice architectures have some benefits compared to monolithic architectures, such as scalability, maintainability, and the ability to iterate more quickly.

Microservices are broken down into smaller services so that they can be managed and scaled more easily. When an application gets too big or too complex, it can be difficult to manage and scale a monolithic application. With a microservice architecture, you can add or remove services as needed to accommodate changes in traffic or requirements. Additionally, each microservice can be written in a different language, which means you can pick the right tool for the job.

Types of Microservice

Microservices have following major types:

1. Event-driven Microservice

Event-driven microservices are used to serve as a messaging broker, routing messages between different consumers. This type of service is more complex and expensive compared to others.

2. Request-driven Microservice

A request-driven microservice is one that responds to requests from other services. It doesn't initiate any requests on its own. This type of service is less complex and less expensive than an event-driven microservice.

3. Massaging Microservice

A messaging microservice is one that sends and receives messages from other services. It doesn't do anything else.

4. Data streaming Microservices

They are used to process and stream data in real-time. They are used to handle events as they happen, instead of processing them after the fact.

Features and How Microservice work

Features of microservices:

A key feature of microservices is that they are composed of smaller individual modules, which can be used to create more scalable software with fewer dependencies than monolithic architectures. This means that it is easier to monitor and maintain them since each service has less impact on the overall system.

Microservice architecture gives you increased scalability because you can scale up or scale down by creating or destroying services. If your application changes, you only need to update the module that needs changing rather than changing the entire application. For these reasons, some people see microservices as having an edge on monolithic architectures.

How do they work?

A microservice is a small, modular application. It communicates with other microservices through a REST API or a message queue. A cluster of microservices performs a single task responsibility. Microservice architectures have some benefits compared to monolithic architectures, such as scalability, maintainability, and the ability to iterate more quickly.

Advantages of Microservice

Some advantages of microservices include:

  • Increased scalability
  • Easier to monitor and maintain
  • Can be written in any programming language
  • Increased cohesion because of fewer dependencies
  • Ability to iterate more quickly

Is it Important to Use a Microservice Architecture?

There are two opinions on this question. One opinion is that you should always use a microservice architecture, and the other opinion is that you should only use a microservice architecture if your system needs it.

The truth is that it depends on the situation. If your system is growing and becoming more complex, then a microservice architecture can help you scale and maintain your application. However, if your system is simple and does not need to be scaled, then a microservice architecture may create more problems than it solves.

Examples of Microservices

Some examples of microservices include:

  • A service that accepts credit card payments
  • A service that logs customer data
  • A service that sends out email notifications
  • A service that retrieves product data from a database

What is an API?

An API is a set of protocols for building software applications. It provides a framework that allows programmers to develop new applications or integrate with existing ones. The API includes how data is formatted, how requests are made, and what responses look like.

When you use an API, the developer who created the API will give you an identifier key that can be used to access their data. They will also provide you with documentation about the type of information that the API returns and how it can be queried. Just like with web services, APIs are accessed via the internet, but the difference is that they are used to power mobile apps or other software programs instead of websites.

Lastly, you can also check the performance of APIs using API tools that are easy to use and quickly available.

How do APIs work?

APIs work by providing a framework that allows programmers to develop new applications or integrate with existing ones. Unlike a web service, APIs don't have a GUI. So in return for limited interaction, you get the benefit of much simpler development requirements.

APIs allow for an easier user interface because they provide developers with a set of protocols that allows them to develop new applications or integrate with existing ones. In response to this opportunity, many businesses are now offering APIs to their customers as a way to increase business value.

APIs also allow businesses to build a more comprehensive and well-rounded mobile app strategy by providing an easy way for developers to use the company's data without having to go through the often difficult process of reverse engineering.

Types of API

There are many API types available that developers use for different purposes. The main of them are:

1. REST API: A REST API uses standard HTTP requests to communicate with clients. It's popular because it's easy to use and understand.

2. SOAP API: A SOAP API uses XML messages to communicate with clients. It's popular because it's reliable and can be used to transfer a lot of data.

3. Streaming API: A streaming API provides real-time updates to clients as new data is received. It's popular for applications that need to process large amounts of data quickly.

Features and Uses for APIs

APIs have a number of features that make them useful for developers. Let's take a look at some of the most important ones:

  • APIs are platform-agnostic, meaning they can be used with any programming language. This flexibility makes them easy to use and opens up a variety of possibilities for development.
  • APIs are RESTful, meaning they use standard HTTP verbs (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE) to communicate. This makes them easy to use and understand.
  • API responses are typically in JSON or XML format, making them easy to parse and work with.
  • API keys allow you to control access to your data and prevent unauthorized access.
  • API documentation is typically well-organized, making it easy to find the information you need.

Advantages of API in Advanced World

API usage has become a staple in modern web development. In an age where the average website is expected to do more, APIs provide a way to offload work and simplify complex interactions. Here are some specific advantages that APIs offer:

1. Simplicity

One of the main advantages of using an API is its simplicity. By using an API, you can reduce the number of requests that your application makes to the server, which can improve performance. Additionally, using an API allows you to focus on your own code while leaving the complicated backend work to someone else. This separation of concerns can make development easier and faster.

2. Efficiency

API usage is also efficient because it allows you to access data in a controlled way. When you use an API, you can be sure that the data returned is in a format that you can understand and use. Additionally, APIs often cache data, which means that your application will receive the information it needs faster.

3. Standardization

APIs are standardized, meaning that they follow certain protocols that allow for communication between different applications. This standardization makes it easier for developers to create new applications and for existing applications to integrate with each other.

4. Scalability

APIs are also scalable, meaning that they can handle more traffic as your application grows.

Common API Actions

Common API actions include creating, reading, updating, and deleting data. When you make a request to an API, you're usually asking for data to be created, updated, or deleted. There are also a few other actions that are less common, such as querying for data or getting information about the API itself.

The most common action is to get data from the server. This means you want to ask for a specific set of data by inserting a filter or requesting certain fields. In this case, you'll usually get all results back from the API, but sometimes there may be a limit on how many can be shown. If that's the case, you'll need to make a new request with a different filter or search term.

The next most common action is to insert or update data. In this case, the API will return whether it was successful or not, as well as any relevant information related to that process. If it fails, you should check if there's an error.

Difference Between External vs Internal APIs

An internal API is one that is used by a company to interact with its own software internally. These APIs allow different parts of a company's software to communicate with each other, as well as access data and functionality. Because internal APIs are used by a company's own software, they are typically well-tested and reliable.

External APIs, on the other hand, are those that are made available to the public. They allow companies to provide access to their data and functionality to other businesses and developers. External APIs can be used to build integrations, as well as create mashups of multiple services.

APIs, Web Services vs Microservices: Which One is Better for Your Business?

Contrary to web services, microservices are much easier to scale when it comes to adding or removing servers from a cluster. While both types of service use caching and load balancing, in a distributed system like a microservice architecture, the requests can be load balanced in a more intelligent way. For example, if you have a microservice that is handling images, and that service becomes overloaded, the requests can be automatically load-balanced to another service that is better equipped to handle them.

FAQ About Web Service vs API:

Do Microservices Rely on APIs?

Microservices are self-contained, small, and modular services that can be used to build scalable applications. They rely on APIs to communicate with other services, but they don't necessarily need them to function.

Is microservices the same as REST API?

Microservices and REST APIs are two different things. Microservices are a newer technology that offers many benefits over traditional monolithic applications. REST APIs are an older technology that allows companies to expose their data and functionality to the world.

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