7.3.Interfaces as APIs
The robotic car example shows an interface being used as an industry standard Application Programming Interface (API). APIs are also common in commercial software products. Typically, a company sells a software package that contains complex methods that another company wants to use in its own software product. An example would be a package of digital image processing methods that are sold to companies making end-user graphics programs. The image processing company writes its classes to implement an interface, which it makes public to its customers. The graphics company then invokes the image processing methods using the signatures and return types defined in the interface. While the image processing company’s API is made public (to its customers), its implementation of the API is kept as a closely guarded secret—in fact, it may revise the implementation at a later date as long as it continues to implement the original interface that its customers have relied on.