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What’s the difference: Server-side API vs. client-side API

Server-side APIs and client-side APIs work together to make apps and software work together seamlessly. Their main difference lies in their respective locations and responsibilities within the architecture of an app.

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One handles what runs on the app's front end, while the other handles what happens with the server and backend processes.

Server-side API

Also called a backend API, a server-side API handles the requests and processes data on the server side of an application. It exposes the endpoints that client apps can interact with to perform specific actions executed by the server, such as retrieving data or updating information. Backend APIs are typically implemented using server-side programming languages like Java, Python, or frameworks specific to backend development.

Server-side APIs are responsible for a range of tasks:

  • Data processing: A server-side API handles data processing, storage, computations, and communication with databases or outside systems to retrieve and manipulate data.

  • Business logic: A server-side API implements your application's business rules, validations, and algorithms that enable functionality specific to your app.

  • Security and authentication: A server-side API takes care of security measures like access control, data validation, and authentication to ensure data is confidential and secure.

Client-side API

Also called a frontend API, a client-side API enables your application code to interact with external services or backend systems. It also makes requests to the server-side API to enable data retrieval and updates. It’s implemented using frontend technologies like HTML and JavaScript.

Client-side APIs are responsible for a range of tasks:

  • User interaction: A client-side API handles all things user interfaces (UI) and interactions, presenting the data and UI elements needed to collect user input.

  • Data display: A client-side API renders and displays the data received from the server-side data in a user-friendly format.

  • Data fetching and sending: A client-side API requests the server-side API to retrieve data or send data for processing or storage.

  • User experience (UX): A client-side API is essential to a modern messaging experience, providing the real-time updates, interactive features, and dynamic content that users expect.

To recap, the server-side API handles the backend interactions like data processing and database interactions. The client-side API enables user interactions, presents data dynamically, and communicates with the client-side API to get and send data. Together, these two API types facilitate seamless communication and functionality within your app.

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