API Discovery Will Be About Finding Companies Who Do What You Need And API Is
While I’m still investing in defining the API discovery space, and I’m seeing some improvements from other API service and tooling providers when it comes to finding, sharing, indexing, and publishing API definitions, I honestly don’t think in the end API discovery will ever be a top-level concern. While API design, deployment, management, and even testing and monitoring have floated to the top as primary discussion areas for API providers, and consumers, the area of API discovery never has quite become a priority. There is always lots of talk about API discovery, mostly about what is broken, rarely about what is needed to fix, with regular waves of directories, marketplaces, and search solutions emerging to attempting to fix the problem, but always falling short.
As I watch more mainstream businesses on-board with the world of APIs, and banks, healthcare, insurance, automobile, and other staple industries work to find their way forward, I’m thinking that the mainstreamification of APIs will surpass API discovery. Meaning that people will be looking for companies who do the thing that they want, and that API is just assumed. Every business will need to have an API, just like every business is assumed to have an website. Sure there will be search engines, directories, and marketplaces to help us find what we are looking for, but when we just won’t always be looking for APIs, we will be looking for solutions. The presence of an API be will be assumed, and if it doesn’t exist we will move on looking for other companies, organizations, institutions, and agencies who do what we need.
I feel like this is one of the reasons API discovery really became a thing. It doesn’t need to be. If you are selling products and services online you need a website, and as the web has matured, you need the same data, content, media, and algorithms available in a machine readable format so they can be distributed to other websites, used within a variety of mobile applications, and available in voice, bot, device, and other applications. This is just how things will work. Developers won’t be searching for APIs, they’ll be searching for the solution to their problem, and the API is just one of the features that have to be present for them to actually become a customer. I’ll keep working to evolve my APIs.json discovery format, and incentivize the development of client, IDE, CI/CD, and other tooling, but I think these things will always be enablers, and not ever a primary concern in the API lifecycle.