The API Space Often Seems To More About Money, Intellectual Property and Competition, Than Interoperability Sometimes
27 Aug 2013
I used to think that the API space is resistant to defining standards around REST, data formats, webhooks, hypermedia, api definitions and other key areas of the space, because after the top down, strict structure of SOA, the community just wanted to let the space organically define the best approaches.
The API world just seemed like a wild west of strong minded individuals, who had a sort of "markets will work it out" approach, and the best approach will win in the end. You know, kind of like the Amazon cloud API battle?
By 2013, the only thing we've come to agreement on is around oAuth, and by many accounts that was a failure. I used to think that many of the bitter battles by the RESTafarians about API design, RESTfulness and Hypermedia were because these were very smart, stubborn folks trying to craft the best approach possible.
After many years of advocating for open source tooling, open events in the space and sharing of common API design patterns, I don't think there is much goodwill for any of it, because companies are more interested in their intellectual property(IP), seeming competitive and ultimately making the most money and pleasing their VCs.
Now don't get me wrong, there are some very fine companies, do good in the space. I'm not saying the entire sector has lots its way. However the majority of the vibe from major players is, we don't want to share design patterns, open tooling, work together to support industry events and gatherings, we will just do it all ourselves, keeping the IP and value for themselves.
I understand I'm less interested in the whole business and VC aspect of this than many of you are, but I think APIs got their start in openness, collaboration and sharing in the spirit of transparency and interoperability. It seems like like after 10 years and finally getting some traction in the space, we are starting to lose our way.