A programming interface or application-programming interface (API) is a way to provide data and services according to clearly defined, technical requirements. An API allows two computers or computer applications to communicate with each other over a network (usually the Internet).
The communication follows a question-answer scheme. A possible question is, for example: «Which hydroelectric power plants are located within 5km of point X/Y». In response, the API delivers a list of relevant power plants. The questions are predefined in the structure, but can be adapted or programmed by parameters. In the example above, the type of power plant, the radius and the point X/Y can be freely selected.
The SFOE’s data can be queried automatically via programming interfaces. A computer can automatically execute the question in the example above taking account of changing parameters and further use the results. Various APIs are available to access SFOE data and metadata.