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Introduction to the Client and Server Side in APIs



Applications Programming Interfaces (APIs) are the connecting blocks that power the sharing of data and communication between applications. Developers have embraced the use of APIs in recent years due to the many benefits that they bring. Some of these benefits include the ability to reuse code, faster time to develop applications, and the ability to innovate quickly. However, do you know what powers these APIs and how they operate?

APIs work under the client and server-side architecture. This architecture defines where the code of an application resides and runs. In other terms, the client and server sides are referred to as the frontend and backend of an application, even though the two are quite different.

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Client-Server Architecture

Almost all the interaction on the internet depends on the client-server architecture. This architecture allows end-user devices to communicate with each other through a network with servers that are centrally located. They (end-user devices) get all the data that they need from these servers instead of having to communicate directly with each other.

These devices, which might include things such as smartphones, laptops, and smart televisions can be defined as the clients to the server. They are more like customers that get services from a business. Users use these devices to send requests through applications to the servers, and in return, the servers respond to the requests, making sure that the users get what they are looking for.

What is the Client Side?

The client-side can be defined as everything in an application or a browser that an end-user can see after sending a request using their devices. This includes everything that a user gets such as images, text, functionalities within an application or browser, and everything else in the user interface.

When it comes to the browser, there are markup languages such as CSS and HTML that are interpreted to a language that a human can understand. Additionally, developers are adding protocols that operate from applications and browsers to make sure that they do not have everything being done on the server-side. This makes resources available on the server and allows applications as well as the server to be fast enough, no matter the number of requests sent at a time.

A good example of an application that has deployed protocols on the client-side is the Netflix application. In the application, JavaScript, CSS, and HTML dictate how the Netflix page looks like. The application also has protocols that can respond to certain events. For example, when a user hovers over a video thumbnail, the thumbnail gets a little bit larger as the other thumbnails move to one side of the screen. All these processes happen on the client-side.

What is the Server Side?

The server-side can be seen as the opposite of the client-side. In other words, it defines all the activities that take place from the server. A few years ago, developers deployed all activities on the server, including things such as database interactions, rendering of web pages, push notifications, and authentication of identities.

However, this caused quite a number of problems, key among them making applications slow. This is because every other request that the end-user made had to take time moving from the client to the server, and the response moving again from the server to the client. It brought a lot of latency, making applications slower than they should be.

When setting up the server-side, developers need to be very careful and ensure that they have implemented the right security measures to keep attackers off. For instance, the past year has seen attackers take advantage of coronavirus to infiltrate servers due to the increased use of online services. They get hold of sensitive data and use it for their own illegal purposes.

Is there any difference between the server-side and backend? Well, server-side is used to define the location where all processes take place while the backend refers to the type of processes taking place on the server-side.

Why the Client and Server Architecture for APIs?

This architecture is used since end-user devices are not as reliable and powerful as servers are. Servers are also easy to maintain, with constant checks and configurations that make sure that the clients, or rather users, get everything they are looking for. In addition, servers are stored in environments that are controlled and safe to ensure that they do not experience downtimes.

When a server goes down, chances are that you will find a backup server to start serving all the clients. On the other hand, clients can break or lose their devices. They can even turn them off when they want. Whatever they do, they are not able to interrupt the availability of internet services.


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