Web API Protocols


Billions of machines connected to form
the World Wide Web, all run using different operating systems,
specifications, and data structures. So, how do we make sure these devices
can all communicate with each other? A set of rules must be in place in order
for machines to speak the same language. We call these sets of rules, protocols. A common abstraction for conceptualizing this is with the open
systems interconnection or OSI model. This model characterizes the
communication functions of the computing system, without getting too
caught up with the specifics of each different type of computer. This allows the model to focus
on the interoperability of diverse communication systems
with standard protocols. The model partitions a communications
system into abstraction layers. The original version of the model
defines seven layers, as shown here. A layer serves the layer above it,
and is served by the layer below it. A variety of protocols can exist within
in each layer, but they all have to be able to receive and hand off data to
the protocols in the adjacent layers. A good analogy to conceptualize this, is like sending a message
inside of multiple envelopes. The application layer is the code
that makes the original message. It is then passed on
to the layer beneath, which wraps this message
inside an envelope. Each layer adds another envelope
with more information about preparing the message, breaking it up
into small packets, routing the message to its intended final destination, and
rebuilding the message once it arrives. Once the message reaches
the physical layer, it is transmitted as a stream
of bits over a physical medium. Physical media are the wires,
fiber optic cables or wireless signals that you use
to connect to the Internet. Once the message reaches
it’s intended machine. It is now processed in reverse order
such that the application sitting on the receiving computer gets
the message the same way it was created by the sender. When it comes to developing web
applications in API design, developers mainly focus on
the application layer in the OSI model. Operating systems can handle
the complexities of the lower levels for us in most cases. But, if you’re interested in learning more about the lower
layers of networking, please check out some of the links
I’ve provided in the instructor notes.

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