Review of APIs: A Strategy Guide from O'Reilly Books
30 Jan 2012
I had the pleasure of getting an early copy of the APIs: A Strategy Guide, Creating Channels with Application Programming Interfaces, by Daniel Jacobson(@daniel_jacobson), Greg Brail(@gbrail), Dan Woods(@danwoodscito), published by O’Reilly Books.
APIs: A Strategy Guide, provides the essential knowledge needed for planning, implementing and managing an API in this emerging API driven world. Written by Daniel Jacobsen who has managed two of the fastest growing and progressive APIs I know of--Netflix and NPR, and Greg Brail who is probably the one individual who has deployed the most number of APIs in the industry, and not leaving out Dan Woods who's is responsible for bringing this book together.
The APIs: A Strategy Guide is sound advice for any executive, business, marketing or engineering person looking to deploy an API. But it doesn't stop there, as an experienced API product manager and evangelist it provides a framework to better look at much of what I already do, while also introducing some new concepts I hadn't considered.
From a business perspective the book describes the API opportunity perfectly while providing the necessary business, product and value chain understanding to take on an API initiative within any company. As an author who's written a book on the Business of APis, Jacobsen, Brail and Woods take it even deeper and perfectly describe the business imperative for using APIs in your company.
From a technical guide, you can't ask for a better approach than Jacobsen and Brail provide. API design is more art than science and they describe a balanced, but deeply technical approach for designing your API, wearing a very pragmatic hat, which is crucial in deploying a successful API.
Beyond technical, the book provides the necessary legal considerations that come up when deploying an API, that could make or break your efforts. There is also concrete operational advice regarding how to approach the day to day operations of your API and ensure that you are able to measure and define the success of your API.
The authors didn't neglect the most important aspect of any API, its developers. The book provides a key overview of what it will take to attract, engage and build a community of developers around your API. Without developers, your API will go nowhere.
I've personally been working with RESTful APIs since their early days and have been studying the business of APis full time for the last year and half exclusively. Reading the APIs: A Strategy Guide, I added two extremely important concepts to my API model:
- APIs Expose Business Assets - APis are channels for exposing your most important business assets--products, services and information.
- API is a Contract - Developers are enticed to use the API because they know they can rely on it. The contract increases confidence, which increases use. The contract also makes the connection between pro-vider and consumer much more efficient since the interfaces are documented, consistent, and predictable.
The authors leave us with the knowledge you will need build a case for an API within your company, plan, implement and manage internal, partner and public APIs. The book ends right where you will be once you successfully launch your API; the beginning. The beginning of a whole new world of innovation, R&D, equipped with a biz dev 2.0 platform that will enable your company to stay competitive in the emerging API economy.