The Current State of APIs
Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time developing an API. It’s RESTful, small, fast, well behaved, follows good design practices, is well documented, and is open sourced. All things that an API should be. But getting into this space has taught me that many APIs are not what they should be, and that there is a lot of room for improvement. Many APIs are poorly conceived, try to do too much, are poorly documented, and/or do not give much thought to their consumers. And – not to start a holy war, but most “RESTful” APIs… aren’t.
The Future of APIs
As applications become smaller and more focused on single purposes, more and more of them are connected via exposing an API, which other software then uses. In recent years, some services such as Twilio, Stripe, and SendGrid are offered as an API only. APIs are becoming to software developers what Apps are to software consumers. Why build from scratch when there is a ready made service that does exactly what you need it to do?
The API Economy
As “Big Data” becomes pervasive, small software services continue to specialize and proliferate, and expectations for software continue to increase, developers will have no choice but to build using APIs. The functionality that a software team can put together in minutes using existing APIs is staggering. Applications that would have taken months or years to build just a few years back can now be accomplished in a weekend. This is a game changer for software, and we’re only just starting to see both the possibilities and the impacts.
Tiers of software construction
My conjecture is that we will soon start seeing two tiers of software creation. At one level will be the people providing APIs. This would be analogous to car part manufactures or construction tool makers. The other tier will be the assemblers. This would be like construction workers or auto manufacturers. This will create some interesting dynamics in the industry. I can’t wait to see where it goes. Where do you think the API economy will take us?
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