Reducing The API Stack Down From 830 to 690
26 Oct 2014
I just finished going through my API Stack, taking a fresh look at each API provider, and recording some information about each of the providers in my API monitoring system. When I started looking through my stack a couple days ago there was 830 companies listed, and after this pass through I carved the stack down to 690--why?
APIs Go Away
It is a fact of life, APIs go away. I'm always amazed at how quickly an API will disappear or just fall into disrepair. I don’t have time to assess what exactly has happened to all APIs, but if I get 404s, or can't find signs of an API program in 10 seconds, and a quick Google search, I pull them from the stack. I've noticed many start-ups seem to be coming out with a slick mobile app + API, and then a few months later the API seems to disappear. I'll start tracking on things better, and see if I can’t produce some better examples to discuss this in the future.
Raising The Bar
As I look at hundreds of APIs, and try to get familiar with them, I can't help but get frustrated by certain things, something that inevitably raises the bar of what I include in my API stack, all along the way. Sometimes I'll notice an API is actually a SOAP web service, or after playing with I find it very difficult to navigate, on-board, and actually put to use. Whatever the reasons I will remove some companies from the stack, and while I will still be keeping an eye on what they are doing (or not doing), the API is not something I'm looking to shine a light on as part of my stack.
Hiding The Docs
One thing I feel like I keep coming across as I look through APIs, are companies pulling back their API documentation. As with APIs going away, I don't always have details about what types of documentation were available historically (something that is changing), so it is hard to tell if an API had docs, then moved them behind a password protected area. Regardless, if I can’t learn about an API, without registering for yet another account, you aren't in the stack. I will not be requesting access, signing up for, or begging you for the opportunity to learn about, and showcase your API.
API Is A Priority
Your API is not a “support entry”, or “advanced feature”. Your API is the next step in the evolution of your companies online presence. While I may still showcase some seemingly dysfunctional APIs, usually there is other value present there, otherwise I wouldn't be highlighting a company's effort. If your API is buried deep within your CMS, or barely a footnote in your online presence, it is likely I won't be talking about it. You can tell sites where APIs are a priority, because they have portals available at http://developer.example.com, modern API documentation, simple sub-domains like http://api.example.com for their APIs, and a link to APIs in the header or footer navigation for a site.
I’m sure my API Stack will grow and shrink over time, and new APIs will come, and others will mature and be put back into the stack. Right now the API Stack is just a list of 690 companies doing interesting things with APIs, and some basic details, with links to their efforts. I’m working to better defining the over 100 business categories these companies exist in, as well as better define each API resource they possess, and I'm looking to continue providing a better defined API stack.
In 2014 when it comes to APIs I”m a little more focused on quality, than quantity.