Professional API Deployment Templates
31 Jul 2017
I wrote about the GSA API prototype the other day. It is an API prototype developed by the GSA, providing an API that is designed in alignment with GSA API design guidelines, complete with an API portal for delivering documentation, and other essential resources any API deployment will need. The GSA provides us with an important approach to delivering open source blueprints that other federal agencies can fork, reverse engineer and deploy as their own custom API implementation.
We need more of this in the private sector. We need a whole buffet of APIs that do a variety of different things, in every language, and platform or stack that we can imagine. Need a contact directory API, or maybe a document storage API, URL shortener API–here is a forkable, downloadable, open source solution you can put to work immediately. We need the WordPress for APIs. Not the CMS interface WordPress is known for, just a simple API that is open source, and can be easily deployed by anyone in any common hosting, and serverless environments. Making the deployment of common API patterns a no-brainer, and something anyone can do, anywhere in the cloud, on-premise, or on-device.
Even though these little bundles of API deployment joy would be open source, there would be a significant amount of opportunity routing folks to other add-on, and premium services on top of any open source API deployment, as well as providing cloud deployment opportunities for developers–similar to the separation between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I could see a variety of service providers emerge that could cater to the API deployment needs of various industries. Some could focus on more data specific solutions, while others could focus on content, or even more algorithmic, machine learning-focused API deployment solutions.
If linked data, hypermedia, gRPC, and GraphQL practitioners want to see more adoption in their chosen protocol, they should be publishing, evolving, and maintaining robust, reverse engineer-able, forkable, open source examples of the APIs they think companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies should be deploying. People emulate what they know, and see out there. From what I can tell, many API developers are pretty lazy, and aren’t always looking to craft the perfect API, but if they had a working example, tailored for exactly their use case (or close enough), I bet they would put it to work. I track on a lot of open source API frameworks, I am going to see if I can find more examples like the GSA prototype out there, where providers aren’t just delivering an API, they are delivering a complete package including API design, deployment, management, and a functional portal to act as the front door for API operations.
Delivering professional API deployment templates could prove to be a pretty interesting way to develop new customers who would also be looking for other API services that target other stops along the API lifecycle like API monitoring, testing, and continuous integration and deployment. I’ll keep my eye out for open source API deployment templates that fit the professional definition I’m talking about. I will also give a little nudge to some API service providers, consulting groups, and agencies I know who are targeting the API space, and see if I can’t stimulate the creation of some professional API deployment templates for some interesting use cases.