The API acronym comes up in so many different contexts that I needed to spend some time clarifying what it is. Essentially, “application programming interface” means exactly what the definition of the individual words are. “Application” is putting something into operation. “Programming” means the process of writing programs. “Interface” is the exchange of information between two separate entities. Putting all of this together, an API is the interface used to communicate between programs in an application. Clear as mud, no?
We encounter interfaces all the time in the digital world. They are what enable us, as humans, to interact with the digital world. A GUI does this with graphical elements like buttons and text boxes. A CLI does it by offering a command line prompt where we type in commands. The cool thing, I think, about APIs is that they define how different pieces of software communicate with each other. This enables all the parts of a digital machine to work as a whole. When programmers use APIs, they can solve new problems faster and more reliably because they can build on other programmers’ solutions.
In order for cloud environments to be useful, they must work with a wide variety of software tools. Different software tools have different APIs. Google Cloud API Library makes those tools available in GCP. By default, GCP disables most APIs. They can be turned on as needed on a project-by-project basis.