The Dark Matter That Make APIs Work
13 May 2013
I encounter many enterprise folks who dismiss APIs as nothing more that just one of the technical building blocks of SOA. Folks who, no matter how much I explain, will never see APIs beyond a technical specification and implementation.
API Evangelist solely exists to shed light on not just the technology of APIs, but the equally important business and politics of the APIs. It is the business and political building blocks that help the concept of API grow beyond just its technical roots.
An API won't find success just because you made a resource available via a URL. An API is successful because it is logically priced, possibly has revenue sharing, code samples to jumpstart integration and a support and resource network that a developer can tap into. An API is successful because it is open and self-service, but sensibly secured, providing a terms of service that benefit API owners, and developers, while also protecting the interests of end users.
APIs bring together a unique blend of technology, business and politics into a transparent, self-service mix that can foster innovation. As someone who is heavily invested at the enterprise scope, it can be difficult to see things through this lens sometimes. You will need to upgrade your prescription with the eye doctor.
Why "API" is working is not just a REST+JSON technical answer, there is a dark matter that binds the whole movement together, while also providing the right about of lubricant and oxygen necessary for innovation. In the enterprise you will often see this dark matter as governance, in the world of APIs it will have a lot of the same characteristics as your governance, but it is actually the exact opposite of governance.
I don't expect to convert all you enterprise folks to see APIs like I do. I don't think you are equipped to view the dark matter that keep the API movement expanding and moving forward. You are focused on seeing things through another lense of control and about the extraction of value--a lense that will always prevent you from seeing the dark matter that makes APIs an evolution beyond SOA.