I've been assigned to design an icon (or logo) for our API (Application Programming Interface). In programming, an API allows programmers/developers to access, or "hook into" functionality located on another system or platform. In this case, our API checks a small amount of text (1-3 lines) against a master list with certain criteria and returns results.

I've been struggling for a few days now to come up with a solid concept that's simple and clear. For example, I've been fiddling with gear-shaped things to represent some sort of mechanical function. You put in something and we give back something valuable. Also in our graphics library is a "check" icon, because we perform validation and standardization to the data given to us. We're fairly flexible how we want this to look and feel.

What symbols or figures would go well in an icon to simply, clearly convey this idea?

  • Is it a "one time" icon, or should it match other in a series? – thebodzio Dec 12 '11 at 23:33
  • It's pretty-much stand-alone. We're in kind of a niche market, but we carry two variations of the same product. I can make the icon adapt to whatever we need... but perhaps a better question is: "What symbol do you think of when you encounter an 'API' like this?" – Matt Dec 12 '11 at 23:40
  • Yup! "Association game" would be my choice too :). Thanks for clarification! – thebodzio Dec 13 '11 at 0:15

My first thought: a list with lines simulating different text strings. One of this lines highlighted. Over, and a bit to the side of this list would be a "scrap of paper" with "text" looking exactly the same as highlighted piece. Above all this: a "check" sign. Yes, I know… simple… maybe even dead simple, but I hope this will help even a tiny bit :).

  • I think this is the most practical way to go... I'll probably end up taking one of the elements you discussed (for simplicity) and try to merge ideas from the other answers as well. But so far my final result looks more like this. Thank you! – Matt Dec 13 '11 at 16:30
  • No prob. :) Glad to help! – thebodzio Dec 13 '11 at 18:58

I like thebodzio's idea. I also wonder: Do you HAVE to make an iso icon? I'm asking you this because not long ago someone wanted to design programming languages icons, and I instantly thought of HTML5. You could do something that includes the word API and has a graphic element as well.

Something in the line of these images below, but perhaps including also the gears or the lines (imagine a square icon, gears on the top and the word api under it).

enter image description here enter image description here

  • This is a good way to convey that it is an API -- and actually the button concept on the left is nifty. I think my final design will incorporate this idea of "push-button" easiness, but also with something that represents what it actually does. Cheers! – Matt Dec 13 '11 at 16:29
  • np! post the final result if you can :) – Yisela Dec 13 '11 at 16:30
  • If I were at liberty to do so, I would. It'll probably be launched sometime next month. Thanks again! – Matt Dec 13 '11 at 16:31

An API can also be an abstraction of a complex process, so that the end the user will get the desired output without having to go through the complexity of the application programming after using the interface (API).

Now, having considered this , any symbol that provides this idea will be good to go. For example, a connector of headphone, start button of bike, and the best that I could think of is the switch and plug symbol used together. You plug the device and get the output you need with ease. For this matter, you can also use symbol of USB devices to represent the logo - any plug and play device like pen-drive etc are good examples.

  • 1
    +1 for the start button of bike...I checked my bike twice but I dint found that button :( – Jack Dec 13 '11 at 11:50
  • @jack- speechless ???!!! – samridhi Dec 13 '11 at 11:54
  • @ sam ridhi who ???? – Jack Dec 13 '11 at 11:57
  • @jack - its samridhi one word! – samridhi Dec 13 '11 at 12:02
  • 1
    let us continue this discussion in chat – Jack Dec 13 '11 at 12:12

An API is a library. Stacks of books.

Other icons which have been used are: gears and puzzle pieces (snap-in)

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