The Spreadsheet Will Play A Central Role In The API Space
The more I immerse myself in government, I'm reminded of the central role that the spreadsheet plays in our business and government operations--primarily Microsoft Excel, but also in some circles, the Google Docs Spreadsheet.
While it is government that is bringing the spreadsheet front and center for me again, I'm reminded of days while working on SAP events and working on budgets, sessions and registrations lists that were past around in complex series of spreadsheets. After this I go further back in time, to the early 2000s when I worked in the non-profit sector, where database management was completely done in a myriad of group and individual spreadsheets.
Beyond the spreadsheet being the central villain in global operations, I'm seeing it emerge as a character across the API landscape with Octobpart Electronics providing bill of materials management in Microsoft Excel that is driven from their API, CrunchBase adding 13,689 Companies and 1,462 venture rounds as an Excel download, and Twilio allowing users to make calls and send SMSs from spreadsheets.
As much as us API geeks would love for people to deploy clean, sensibly designed APIs, that meet our visions of the future of APIs--the reality is that much of the worlds data is managed via the spreadsheet. If we are truly going to deliver on the API economy, we have to consider the spreadsheet.
This spreadsheet bridge is not just about allowing users to publish data via APIs from spreadsheets, but also enabling every day users to cosume valuable API driven data and resources from their native spreadsheet. It has to be a two way street.
Whether we like it or not, the spreadsheet will continue to play a central role in the API space, and represents the future of acessing valuable corporate, non-profit and government resources for everyone.