API authentication is the process of ensuring that only authorized users can access the data and functionality provided by an API. In this post, we will explain the different forms of API authentication for non-technical users and provide examples of the headers used to authenticate in each case.
Some APIs do not require any form of authentication. These are known as public APIs and can be accessed by anyone. Examples of public APIs include the weather API and currency conversion API. These APIs are typically used to provide information or perform simple actions that do not require any sensitive information.
In other cases, an API may require an API key to access. An API key is a unique string of characters that is provided by the API provider. It is used to identify the developer or application that is making the request. This is a simple form of authentication that is easy to set up and use. You can usually find the API key in the account settings of the API provider. To use an API key to authenticate, you would include it in the headers of your API request, like this:
OAuth (Open Authorization) is a standard for allowing users to grant access to their data without sharing their login credentials. It is often used for social media APIs, where a user can grant an application access to their social media account without sharing their login credentials. OAuth is more secure than API keys as it enables users to grant and revoke access to their data. To use OAuth to authenticate, you would need to follow the OAuth flow and obtain an access token from the API provider. The access token would then be included in the headers of your API request, like this:
JWT is a compact, URL-safe means of representing claims to be transferred between two parties. JWT is the most common form of authentication for the APIs that are built on top of the REST architecture. It is a JSON object that contains information about the user and is encoded and signed by the server. Once the user is authenticated, the server sends a JWT to the client, which the client can then use to authenticate itself to the server in subsequent requests. To use JWT to authenticate, you would include it in the headers of your API request, like this:
Basic authentication is a simple form of authentication where the client sends an HTTP header with a username and password in plain text. This method is less secure than other forms of authentication and should only be used over a secure connection (HTTPS). To use basic authentication, you would encode the username and password in base64 and include them in the headers of your API request, like this:
It's important to keep in mind that different APIs may use different forms of authentication and it's a good idea to refer to the API's documentation for more information on the specific authentication methods that it requires. Additionally, some APIs may provide multiple forms of authentication, so it's important to choose the best one depending on the requirements of your application and the features the no-code application supports.
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