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When planning an API, I always tell people to go look at as many of the top APIs as they can before crafting their own API strategy. I'm always surprised how many API owners I talk to don't actually use other APIs. They can usually reference the main ones like Twitter and Facebook, or the usual rockstar Twilio--but very few can cite 10 or more APIs they like.

Recently I spent some time looking through all of ProgrammableWeb's APIs, and I made a list of the 30 APIs I like, and would reference when designing an API strategy. Since I'm more about the Business of APIs and not just the finer, technical points, these I feel are unique because of their business approach to delivering their API.

Here are 30 of the best APIs I think you should look at when planning your own API strategy:

Amazon Web Services - Cloud Computing
Bitly - URL Shortening
Box.net - Cloud Storage
Compete - Web Analytics
Constant Contact - Small Business Marketing
Datasift - Data Marketpalce
Disqus - Comments and Discussions
Dwolla - Payments
Ebay - Products and Online Auctions
Etsy - Handmade Marketplace
EventBrite - Event Management
EverNote - Memory and Notetaking
Factual - Data Marketplace
Flickr - Images
Foursquare - Locations and Check-Ins
Full Contact - Contact Intelligence
Google Maps - Mapping
Google+ - Social Network
Instagram - Photos
LinkedIn - Business Social Network
RapLeaf - Email Contact Intelligence
Salesforce - CRM and Sales
SendGrid - Email
Stripe - Payments
The EchoNest - Music
Twilio - VoIP and SMS
Twitter - Micro Blogging
Wolfram Alpha - Computational Knowledge Engine
Xero - Accounting
Zappos - Shoes and Clothing

Not all of these APIs do it perfectly, but each of them have something we can learn from when planning, deploying and managing our own APIs.  All of these APIs have an active presence, so I recommend reaching out to them and ask questions about what made them successful or follow their blog and Twitter accounts.

If there is an API you feeling strong about that is not on this list, please let me know.  Or if you feel one of these APIs doesn't do something right, either technical or otherwise, also let me know as well (except if its Twitter).  




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