application program interface (API)

An application program interface (API - and sometimes spelled application programming interface) is the specific method prescribed by a computer operating system or by an application program by which a programmer writing an application program can make requests of the operating system or another application.

An API can be contrasted with a graphical user interface or a command interface (both of which are direct user interfaces) as interfaces to an operating system or a program.

Contributor(s): Thomas Li
This was last updated in March 2010
Posted by: Margaret Rouse
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