API Trends I Am Watching

Photo Credit: AVnet

I try to keep API Evangelist a place where API newbies and API experts can both find what they are looking for. To meet this demand I’m constantly moving the site around, trying to uncover more information, in a logical way that speaks to everyone.

To change things up a little I moved a couple of the most important trends in APIs out of the trends section, and put them on the right hand menu, making them accessible from any page. There are four trends I think are important to how APIs are being used right now:

  • Aggregation - Merging various APIs together into not just meaningful new stacks of resources, but entirely new resources, as a result of merging
  • BaaS - The promise of Backend as a Service is to bundle together resources developers need to build mobile apps more efficiently.  Some providers are rolling their own stacks, while others are using a hybrid approach with wise use of 3rd party API resources
  • Reciprocity - The integration, interoperability, automation and transformation of data between cloud services, in a way that respects the relationshiop between user and platform, that uses APIs.
  • Realtime - A realtime flow of data and resources using APIs and web technologies, meeting the demand of the API economy.

I feel these areas will represent a shift in how APIs are deployed and consumed to meet the growing demand for the data and resources driving web and mobile applications. While the API should exist on its own, these areas represent an evolution in how APIs are bundled together into more meaningful stacks, new mashups of resources and providing the integration, interoperability, automation and real-time needs of businesses in the API economy.

In addition to these four trends, I’m looking at several other ways APIs are being used in new and potentially powerful ways:

  • Voice - With the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices, voice is the next generation of discovering and interacting with valuable API resources
  • Data Analysis - The era of "big data" is upon us, like it or not.  APIs will provide the fuel for the analysis that occurs around the insane amounts of data coming online, but also being generated by new applications and devices
  • Data Visualization - One fundamental aspect of the "big data" evolution is being able to visualize and communicate meaning derived from data, and keeping visualizations transparent and interactive using APIs is essential
  • Syndication - We saw the power of skyndicattion using APIs with the Facebook Like and the Tweet button.  APIs will continue to drive syndication and encourage collaboration on the open Internet in new ways

These all represent some very important ways in which APIs are being applied across all business sectors. All these trending areas are using APIs to deliver value to government, businesses and individuals, and if we are not careful we can focus only on the end value and forget about some of the important benefits of keeping open, accessible APIs that deliver the valuable resources needed.  The open pipes will prove to be just as important as the end value in my opinion.

We will need to make sure the backends to the mobile phones and tablets our families are using stay open and transparent, delivering the value while respecting our privacy and security. There needs to be transparency and open access around all analysis and visualizations used in “big data” decisions in the coming years. Infographics and industry reports without open and transparent APIs behind them offer little value in the API economy.

I’m looking forward to seeing which of these trends continue to grow in 2013, and which ones go away, or even morph into entirely new trends. This is what I love about the API space, the unlimited opportunity for change and evolution. Which is why I keep the conversation going.