You might have heard the terms “API” and “Microservice Development” quite a lot lately. Both of them are essential to web applications, and with the way many writers use them, it’s tempting to think that the two terms refer to the same thing.  

However, the two are different concepts. While there are overlaps between an API and microservice development, there are also noticeable differences. We will walk you through both the similarities and the differences between the two terms in this article. 

API” means Application Programming Interface. As implied by the name, APIs are doorways that let developers create new applications and make changes to existing ones. The term API is more commonly associated with web APIs that facilitate communication and transactions between, within, and among businesses. For instance, when you log in to Spotify using your Facebook account, an API is involved.  

Microservices, on the other hand, refers to the individual services in applications where functionality is divided into smaller segments or modules. These kinds of applications are gradually taking over the market share of larger applications, often referred to as monoliths. Microservices are easier to develop because individual functions are treated separately instead of as parts of a whole, preventing scope creep and cost overruns in project teams. 

In other words, APIs are the frameworks through which developers can interact with applications, while microservices are an architectural style used to develop these same applications.  

Now that we have distilled the main differences between APIs and microservice development, where do they overlap? Let’s go back to the example we used earlier. Spotify has a microservice that allows the user to log in, which triggers an API to call upon Facebook and use its own sign-in credentials microservice. Another good example is Uber Eats. Uber does not have any proprietary maps, so it uses an API to call the Google Maps microservice to help users locate nearby restaurants.  

Both APIs and microservice development are essential parts of modern web development. Knowing the differences and relationships between them is important in understanding how apps and websites work.