Not All APIs Are Bad
01 Jul 2012
When covering the API space, it is easy to talk about the APIs that are doing it wrong. When Twitter gets ready to screw over developers, Facebook breaks something or Google changes their approach--the blogosphere and twittersphere eats it up.
What is harder, is finding the stories about success in the space. I see a lot of comments on recent posts about how developers are fools for every believing in APIs, and what positive outcomes have their been with APIs?
Has there been a great success story of building a company around an API/platform (not an OS) you don't control? Does that ever end well?— Tim Carmody (@tcarmody) July 2, 2012
In response, I always step up with Twilio. Twilio is the poster boy of how to do it right. They just get it. Ok, we use Twilio a lot, I admit. After Twilio I tell people to look at Stripe. Another great example of an API centric company, who elegantly solves a problem with a dead simple, but powerful API.
After Twilio and Stripe. I try to think about some of my favorite APIs from the past, the social pioneers that helped kick things off--APIs like Flickr and Delicious. Flickr Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake coined the phrase "Biz Dev 2.0", which was a driving force behind the Flickr API originally.
Ok, Flickr and Delicious are the past, leaving a little to be desired after acquisitions, but another API from the past that really doesn’t get much bad API press is eBay. Have you taken a look at the eBay API ecosystem lately? They have APIs that are there to help make the API ecosystem more efficient.
Let’s take it one notch further. One reason I believe in APIs, is my personal experience deploying mission critical infrastructure with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Using AWS I deployed web, mail and database services with Amazon EC2 and delivered content ranging from PDF files to streaming video using Amazon S3. Using AWS I designed and deployed the architecture behind registration and support technology for SAP North America Events and Google events for two years. AWS plus mission critical events make the perfect opportunity to prove the value of APIs.
My point is, it can be easy bash Twitter, or any other API but let’s try and remember that when an API is successful, you probably won’t hear much about it, things just work--that is the nature of APIs.