RESTful architecture has been around for over 15 years, so there is plenty of documentation available on the subject. Published best practices abound on developer sites like GitHub and Stack Overflow, yet there has yet to be a common set of standards established to ensure API consistency, ease of use, stability and performance.
When software/cloud vendors and developers get together to establish and advance standards, like the Internet Software Consortium, Apache Software Foundation, and W3C, everyone can benefit:
- SaaS companies
- Their business customers
- Developers and aspiring developers
- Consultants and integration professionals
In the case of API standards, it isn’t just the design architecture that needs to be common for developers to achieve their goals of integration and incorporation of data, there also needs to be guidelines for:
- Data and reporting/metrics
- Data refreshing
- Performance and rate limits
- Commercial terms
In some cases, when developers try to work with APIs that weren’t developed according to design best practices, they find the API will “break” — that is, create latency, delay and error in the integration process. And one thing developers around the world share is an appreciation of consistency.
There are nearly 15,000 public APIs in the ProgrammableWeb directory, and most of them were developed over the past five years. Exponential data growth, combined with the growing number of cloud applications and related APIs in the marketplace, makes for a challenging environment when there aren’t any standards in place.
APIs have evolved from a technical imperative to an executive mandate. Companies can break down silos within their walls, and act faster on reliable, real-time information. If a cloud service isn’t compatible with others within a company’s application ecosystem, it will quickly be replaced by one that is.
The rapid growth of APIs has accelerated the need for interoperable information. Leading cloud vendors make their APIs accessible to developers, along with extensive and clear documentation on how to customize it and build custom integrations. APIs need to be maintained to keep pace with the places data lives, and how data is presented, including:
- Mobile devices
- Social media channels
- Structured data business applications like ERP or CRM
- Data warehouses
- Web content management systems
- SaaS ecommerce engines
- Marketing automation systems
- Customer service apps
- Document repositories
In order to get CEOs, CIOs, and CFOs excited about the opportunity presented by API standards, they have to understand the strategic top-line and bottom-line opportunities that exist.
Meeting the analytics and business intelligence demands of the thousands of XaaS (Anything- as-a-Service) systems in the marketplace is a challenge—which is why there needs to be collaboration with industry leaders in promoting best practices and creating a set of standards for the future of APIs. The StandardsForAPIs.org initiative is seeking to improve how data is leveraged for business efficiency and gain, creating opportunity not only for XaaS vendors, but for the businesses that rely on them, and the developers who will benefit from consistent quality architecture and performance.
Want to influence and help to shape the future of API best practices and standards? Let your voice be heard at our Standards for APIs tour. Your voice could help us set new standards and best practices for API development.