There are several classifications of APIs based on how they are used:

1. Internal

These APIs are used exclusively within an organization or company. Although adoption of REST is growing strong among all industries within an enterprise, SOAP/HTTP or .NET still has a large presence. In most cases, REST will wrap an existing SOAP/HTTP or .NET service.

2. External

These APIs are primarily available externally to consumers. At this stage of maturity, the growing trend for external APIs are written based on REST/JSON technologies. They provide access and integration capabilities that are easier to use than the more industrial-strength capabilities leveraging web services (for example, WSDLs).

3. Partner

These APIs are specifically designed for partners to be able to access business functions in relation to the business relationship of the partnership. Examples include online catalog, ordering, and reconciliation.

Over time, other categories of APIs might come into being.

To learn more please read the Redbook here.

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