How to Build a Chat App With Next.js & Firebase
In this tutorial, we will guide you through building a simple chat application with Next.js and Firebase.
This tutorial will break down what APIs really are, how they work, why they are used, and how they allow two applications to communicate with each other.
An API is an “Application Programming Interface” which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to communicate with each other. Many of you have used APIs before without even knowing it. Have you checked the weather on your phone? Sent a message to someone on a chat app? Chances are you were using an API to perform those tasks.
The connection between two (or more) applications, programs, services or systems is simply the integration of an API. Applications are using APIs in order to send and receive each other's data and content. Continue to read about an API history, what you are using, examples, and more.
It’s no secret that technology can and does make a lot of things in our daily lives easier but how do APIs make our lives easier? Let’s say I own a small business and I want to see if any new users have signed up on my website. I can use my API to view the details of the users. Maybe I have a marketplace application and I want to see if any new products have been added, I can use an API for that as well. APIs are very efficient in providing data. Another benefit of using an API is that they are very easy to implement into your application. It’s doesn’t matter what programming language your website or application uses or what programming language the API was built in. You can still implement its usage in your application or website.
There are three major parts of an API:
Most API’s require that you have a personalized API Key. The documentation of a particular API will explain how to get an API Key. The API key is what gives you access to the API’s data. Once you have the key you will be able to access the API’s data. if you do not obtain an API key it’s possible you won’t be able to make a successful request.
There are several different types of APIs
The main purpose of APIs to to provide data and allow others to access it. Think of API’s as a database of specified information.
APIs also provide an added layer of security as your device is never fully exposed to the server and the server is never fully exposed to your device. Instead, we communicate with small packets of data, sharing only what is necessary to complete the request.
It’s not uncommon for development teams to break up their application into multiple servers that talk to each other via APIs. The servers that perform helper functions for the main application server are commonly referred to as microservices. Here are some popular APIs:
I personally, have built a few APIs to interact with my applications. I will explain the process I used to build these APIs.
To show you, in more detail what this would actually look like, see the below screenshot:
Here’s a diagram of the lifecycle of an API request.
How are API’s important when it comes to peer to peer communication? You may not realize it but, APIs are involved in peer to peer communication when it comes to communicating electronically. Here's what Chat APIs can do -
Here's more on how developers can use CometChat's API to create in-app chat
In this tutorial, we covered in detail what API’s are. We also discussed the different types of API’s and what types of applications offer/user API’s.
Key resources to learn more about APIs