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I’m working on reviewing various APIs as part of my database industry overview, where I’m trying to understand the different approaches to delivering database platforms using web APIs as the primary interface.

One of these database platforms is Database.com. I really like what SalesForce.com is doing with Database.com, but I take issue with their section declaring Database.com as an open platform. SalesForce.com claims because you can access Database.com from any language, any platform, and any device through standards-based APIs, it is "open".

I think many folks in the enterprise space truly believe this makes something open. All it means is, if you have the money and approved credentials, you can access. If I launch a database on Database.com it is open for "me" to access, and those I give access to. And yes, since it uses REST I am "open" to access via any language or platform I choose. But I'm sorry, that does not make it "open".

I recommend SalesForce.com take a look at Freebase. All the data contained in Freebase is licensed by a Creative Commons Attribution License, which means that it's free for you to browse, query, copy, and even use the data in your own systems or software, even for commercial use, all you have to do is attribute it back to Freebase.

Anyone has access to use and contribute to Freebase, as well as use any programming language or platform to access the data available on the platform. Access to data is only one aspect of "open", developers must also be freely open to use and contribute to it, as the community sees fit.

As much as I love and evangelize the power of the API, an API alone does not make systems or data open.




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