APIs Are Not Just for Developers
04-09-2011One of the reasons I believe APIs are growing so popular is they are getting easier, and easier to use.
The main reason they are getting easier to use is due to the adoption of RESTful approaches when delivering APIs.
Many APIs that use REST can be easily hacked by just changing values in the URL query string, instantly making APIs accessible by a wider audience
Once users get past the confusing acronyms and jargon us programmers use, and realize whats going on, they can start accessing the data and functionality that's behind the curtain.
RESTful APIs open up data and functionality to anyone, and we are starting to see a new breed of hackers from many disciplines including journalism, social media marketing, and government, to name a few.
As technology becomes increasingly important in our every day lives, people can't wait for IT or programmers to deliver, savvy users start hacking on their own.
A very innovative example of this I saw lately was by Social Media Strategist, Tom Critchlow. Tom wrote a great post called, Using Tools & APIs To Track Your Social Media Strategy. Through a need to understand the impact of his social media efforts, he learned that he can query top social sites using their API to quantify the impact of his site(s).
Then using Google Docs, along with with the power of Google App Scripts he pulls counts for shares, likes, etc for his site using Social Media APIs.
Using RESTful Social Media APIs, and Google Docs, he is able to hack these APIs, get the data he is looking for, store it in a spreadsheet, and then visualize it.
His efforts truly represent the power of APIs, and how important it is that we deliver simple, RESTful interfaces that developers and non-developers can use in our every day business.