Well-Defined API Workflows Are Sign Of API Maturity
Having standard API practices established across our development teams plays an important role in pushing us to deliver more consistent and usable APIs. Establishing a feedback loop with API consumers and other stakeholders adds another layer of refinement to our APIs that help us iterate and harden them. Another dimension of the API conversation that helps us push our APIs towards maturity centers around discussing and defining the meaningful workflows that can be developed with our APIs. Helping us establish more meaningful business workflow with our APIs, and potentially other partner or 3rd party APIs, connecting our APIs together into workflows that help us accomplish the most valuable tasks we can.
API workflows are all about getting us past the caveman CRUD grunts and groans we use to communicate with our API resources, and begin to actually use real words and phrases to describe a series of API calls that accomplish something with real world business values. Having a machine readable reference for all of our APIs is essential, making sure that every path is well documented and accessible by developers. However, also having a machine readable definitions for our workflows that help us articulate how the most common and valuable API workflows should occur is a sign of maturity in our APIs, our process, and how we articulate this value to developers and end-users.
When crafting API workflows, the place to begin involves stitching together your own APIs to recreate the most relevant workflows that are already present in your applications. This helps you think through the business value that your APIs deliver, helping you smooth out the rough edges around how things work (or don’t). Another important aspect of this effort is to make sure that you are also weaving in partner and other 3rd party APIs as part of this workflow development, enriching and adding value to your own APIs, and expanding the reach of the business value your API workflows deliver. Exposing your API stakeholders to a richer set of functionality, while also ensuring that you are regularly sizing up your own APIs against other leading 3rd party APIs, further hardening your practices, process, and APIs along the way.
The last five years have been all about making sure we have reference style API definitions available for all of our APIs, allowing us to leverage them throughout the API lifecycle, generating mocks, documentation, testing, and other essential stops along a modern API lifecycle. While this work will continue as more mainstream companies realize the importance of APIs to their business, the next evolution in APIs will be all about API workflows, and ensuring we have thought through how our APIs are being applied. Helping us mature how we approach our API operations, and are in tune with how our APIs are put to use, making sure that we aren’t just delivering real value to our consumers, but also that we have reduced any friction, minimized complexities, and distilled down our most meaningful API workflows into something anyone can follow and put to use.