The API Evangelist Blog

This blog represents the thoughts I have while I'm research the world of APIs. I share what I'm working each week, and publish daily insights on a wide range of topics from design to depcration, and spanning the technology, business, and politics of APIs. All of this runs on Github, so if you see a mistake, you can either fix by submitting a pull request, or let me know by submitting a Github issue for the repository.


The Burden On API Providers When It Comes To Web Literacy

I am working through the USGS water data services, which include some REST APIs, and investing some of my work hours to one of my passions and concerns--water data and APIs. There is a wealth of water data available via the federal government web services, and as I'm making my way through the materials, I'm reminded of the heavy burden on API providers when it comes to web literacy. 

The USGS water services APIs documentation are about 30% education about common web concepts, and specifications like gzip, CORS, ISO-8601 Duration format, SO-8601 Date format, what is JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), and much more. I see this approach often with API efforts that offer both REST and SOAP services, where the education of developers around key web concepts is much more necessary, but it also depends on how much the API providers actually care about their developers being literate--I guess USGS cares more than many other more commercial providers.

I fully support API providers educating their developer around the web technologies in use. However I feel like it shouldn't be a burden on them, and they should have a wealth of resources available to plug in and do the work for them, so they can spend their time making their APIs better. This is why I'm working with Erik Wilde (@dret) to make his important showcase of essential web concepts and specification as machine readable, and as accessible as possible so that we can get to work making more resources available to API providers when it comes to web literacy.

Ideally, web literacy is default amongst developers, but until that is a reality, we should be assisting all API providers in educating their API consumers within their developer portals, and in line with their existing documentation. Ideally, we should be doing this in a more structured approach, and begin evolving Eriks' work into a kind of forkable, embeddable, plug and play curriculum that API providers like the USGS can put to work with as little effort as possible.


Just Because The Enterprise Will Never Get APIs Does Not Mean You Should Not Try

The response on Twitter and via email to my post about how the enterprise does not know(care) how big and destructive it is to APIs, is usual to this type of post, which I usually write about every six months to shake the enterprise trees. My enterprise readers rarely ever favorite or share posts, and engage in conversation on social media, and writing the occasional anti-enterprise posts is a sort of roll call for some of them--who I would never know exist unless I ruffle their feathers (thanks for sharing your thoughts). 

I strongly believe that the enterprise (machine) does not care about APIs, but this doesn't mean that the enterprise (individual) does not care about APIs, and can't find meaningful success by employing APIs. It is one of the reasons I bad mouth the enterprise (machine) in this way, to help you see it as a separate beast than from what you are trying to accomplish with APIs within your group.

I have worked in the enterprise, as well as government bureaucracy and know the struggles. I am super thankful for people who have the fortitude to work in these environments, as I do not. Not all change can be inflicted from the outside-in, and the whole API thing requires folks who are embedded, entrenched, and willing to take on the mundane, micro-struggles that exist within the enterprise (machine).

While I do not believe in the enterprise (machine) and APIs, I do believe in you the enterprise (individual) and APIs. You need to keep trying to do API, no matter how many times they fail, or how uphill of a battle it might be. Now that I shook a handful of you out of the trees, feel free to keep sending me messages from within, and I'm happy to keep sharing stories that hopefully will help you in your struggle.


A Web Concepts And Specifications JavaScript Library For API Providers

One of the prototypes I am going to build on top of Erik Wilde's (@dret) WebConcepts.info work, is a simple JavaScript library that you can embed on any API documentation page, and point at the body, or any other element on the page and it will find and replace any keywords or phrases with popup  showing a definition, with a link to Erik's work and the standard(s) home page. 

I'm reminded of the need for something like this as I'm looking through the USGS Water Services site. There are little web literacy nuggets all over the documentation for the USGS's six APIs, and I'd like to see this approach get standardized by building on Erik's work to make web concepts and specs for accessible to API designers and developers, in a consistent way.

A web concepts and specs JavaScript tooltip library for API developer portals wouldn't have to be that sophisticated, it could just look up based upon web concepts available in the JSON for the concepts, and eventually for the related specs. I'll brainstorm more on what the lookup mechanisms might look like. I'd like there to be a dictionary of sorts, that API providers can reference when crafting their documentation, and even add to--then when specific words or phrases appear on the page, the library just swaps it out with a tooltip plus link referencing the web concept or spec. 

For my prototype, I am going to use the Tooltip JavaScript library, and avoid reinventing the wheel. Next, I'll get to work brainstorming the lookup mechanism, and the dictionary that drives it. Ideally, I'd like for this library to work for both websites, and web applications, and provide context relevant web concepts and specs to API providers, API service providers, and consumers alike. If you have any suggestions for this prototype let me know, or even better, if you want to help build a prototype--that would rock as well. 


Working Tips and Tricks Into Your Regular API Evangelism Efforts

I usually don't have to look very far to find good examples of API evangelism in the field, because the best technology providers are usually pretty consistent and vocal about their practices--allowing me to just pluck from my feeds, and rework as a story for my API provider readership. One of the consistent sources for me out there is from the Docker community, and from what they like to call Docker Captains.

One of the things I see regularly from this Docker community leadership is the sharing of their platform tips and tricks and in-person and online meetups. This is definitely something I recommend other API providers do when possible, but I would also recommend working to integrate the concept into your regular evangelism activities like blogging, weekly newsletter, and Tweeting.

Maybe it is something you could also open up to the rest of the community. Allowing your trusted partners, and your favorite developers to share what their tips & tricks are around API integration and usage are. The idea of tips and tricks is a pretty basic thing, but if you are working to stay creative in producing content, while also keeping things in the realm of actually helping your API developers be successful--it is one that can go a long way each week at meetups, on your blog, newsletter, Twitter, and across all the other channels you are already using to reach developers.


Stoplight Displays API Definitions By Default With Their API Doc Service

I was doing some maintenance on my bots and APIs research, and processing the information for the bot analytics provider Botlytics, and as I was going through their API I noticed the prominent placement and availability of OpenAPI Specs for the API.

Making your API definitions as prominent as possible is something I have been advocating for some time now, something I reinforced again recently by asking API providers to make sure and show as an icon, or other very visual element. This is a very important part of the API life cycle, that when also supported as a default feature by API service providers, just keeps giving to the API community, and helps makes it truly more open, consistent, while also helping it be more machine readable. (shouldn't everything API be machine readable? *cough* hypermedia *cough*)

When Apiary introduced this feature to their API customers by default I wrote about it, and I also wanted to take the time and give a nod to the Stoplight.io team for doing this with their API Docs--making OpenAPI Spec definitions available in such a prominent location by default. API providers don't always have the time to think of all the little details (which is why I write about things on API Evangelist), so it is super critical that API providers help raise the bar like this when possible.

If you are looking for the quickest way to deploy machine readable API definitions + API docs for your API I recommend downloading Stoplight's Prism, fire up your API in Postman, make calls to all your API endpoints, and Prism, Stoplight, and API Docs will do the heavy lifting for you


Imagine If Tim Berners Lee Or Roy Fielding Had Patented Their Work

I'm back wallowing through my API patent work, which I'm sure a portion of my readership is like, "oh gawd, hurry up and move on", which is the same way I feel, but the shit is so deep in this area of my API research I find myself often getting stuck. I just do not know enough about the law, intellectual property, and the patenting algorithms to argue coherently against API focused patents, but in my heart, I know that the API itself should be excluded from the process that is being defined.

I know that many folks think I'm anti-patent. This is the default stance of intellectual property believers. I am not. I get the concept in many circumstances, but when it comes to the Internet, and web technology I think the concept needs an overhaul. The USPTO is woefully ill-equipped to process the patents for such abstract concepts, and companies are rushing to file patents that exploit this--get em' in while you can! The number of growing mentions for API in patent applications shows that there really is no gate when it comes to filing your abstract idea, and locking up your very piece of the digital frontier.

Unable to make a coherent argument against, I'm left thinking about the web, and APIs and what the world would look like if Tim Berners-Lee or Roy Fielding had felt the need to patent their work. With this in mind, I just can't see the interface for your intellectual property being something that should be included as part of the patent language. Go ahead and lay your claim to your algorithmic intellectual property (I guess), but the interface for it, the piece you are going to use the web to provide access to and expect that other businesses integrate into their web, mobile, system, and device-based applications--leave it out.

I do not have a legal argument against you putting API technology in your patents, but I can make a philosophical one, and plead with you to consider the future of technology you would like to see. If you have trouble envisioning this, think of what the Internet would look like if Tim Berners-Lee had patented his work, and what APIs would have looked like if Roy T. Fielding had patented his work. I'm guessing the Internet would look very, very different, and I'm guessing APIs would never have been a thing.

Ok, last patent story until I make it through all of Lawrence Lessig's books.


Connecting My API Logging With My API DNS Using CloudFlare Page Rules API

As I'm spending time learning more about what my DNS provider CloudFlare offers when it comes to securing my APIs. To facilitate this, I am playing around with how I can utilize my Apache log files, to help me better drive the definition of DNS security using the CloudfFare API. I guess this is kind of a real time reactive, but also hopefully eventually a proactive solution to quantifying and defining the frontline of my API operations.

I originally embarked on this endeavor to help me manage some of the shift in the API Evangelist network and help mitigate 404 errors across my network of API research. I had recently migrated what I call my API Stack research to a new domain (stack.network), and I am anticipating quite a few broken links in stories over the years that reference this area of my work. I have been trying to attack this from the content level by rewriting links as I find them, but I'm thinking I could automate this using my Apache log files and setting up PageRules using CloudFlareAPIs as well.

Once I started sifting through the Apache log files I began to see other traffic patterns that were more in the area of security, then with the stability of my platform and its linkages. As with any type of log file, it is taking some time for all of this to come into focus for me. I will have to spend a great deal of time evaluating traffic from specific IP ranges, user agents, etc., but I know I should be able to quickly establish some rules at the DNS level that will better help me lock down the front line of my API traffic.

Right now I am just keeping my Apache log files backed up to Amazon S3 to help alleviate server load, and keep around for historical purposes. I have built a log file viewer for sifting through my API traffic, and at the moment I'm manually creating page rules in CloudFlare, but it is something I hope to automate via the CloudFlare API once I have established an awareness of the common types of rules I will be creating. Once I evolve to this point I will write about again, and hopefully talk more about how API access to the logging for my API traffic, in conjunction with how API at the DNS level for my API is helping me better define and secure the frontline of my API operations.


A JSON Feed Of Critical Web Concepts To Integrate Into API Design Service And Tooling

I created a JSON feed of the web concepts and specs over at Erik Wilde's (@dret) site WebConcepts.info, so that I could easily import the specs into my Twitter and LinkedIn scheduling tools. I want to be able to schedule a tweet a day until I've exhausted all of the critical web concepts and supporting specs that Erik is showcasing in his work. Digital literacy, when it comes to these concepts, and proficiency at applying the specifications across the APIs that are driving growth in the sector is super important, so I want to help.

After I created the JSON file, Erik went ahead and crafted an official one derived from mine, but he did a nicer, and more complete job than I did. He initially only did the web concepts, but right before I was ready to publish this he did the specs edition as well. Now you can use the direct links to the JSON (or XML) in his Github repo, or fork the project and integrate directly into your platform.

I am going to get to work on some proof of concepts, and prototypes to demonstrate how I'd like to see these web concepts and specs be integrated with API design tooling and API developer portals. I'm just getting started with these thoughts but I would like to see auto-complete, tool tips, and other design time HTTP literacy solutions emerge and evolve. I hate to admit it, but many API developers and architects are probably not looking past their API design tooling and services, and the integrated development environments (IDEs) they depend on each day when it comes to their web literacy. Erik's hard work to showcase these building blocks of the web is a great start, and I hope provides us all with some essential curriculum that we can deliver straight to developers, where they are already working.


I Am Keeping My Mind Open And Looking Forward To Learning More About GraphQL

I wrote a post the other day sharing my thoughts around GraphQL seeming like we were avoiding the hard work of API design. Shortly after publishing Sashko Stubailo (@stubailo) from Apollo, a GraphQL solution provider, wrote a very thoughtful response to me comments and questions about GraphQL. First I wanted to say that I really dig this approach to responding to other people's blog posts, with a blog post of your own, within your own personal or company domain.

I don't think Sashko has convinced me 100% that GraphQL is the solution we are looking for, but he has convinced me that I should be learning more about it, keeping a closer eye on the technology, and better understand how people are putting it to use.

Regarding my primary question regarding how GraphQL could benefit non-technical folks and end-users--I would say he answered it 50% of the way:

I’m a frontend developer. GraphQL makes my life easy.

It doesn't touch on whether or not non-technical users will be able to reverse engineer and put it to work for them, but that's ok for now. One thing that Sashko touched on for me, that move GraphQL closer to being simple enough for non-technical users, is he helped differentiate GraphQL from SQL:

GraphQL is a query language, like SQL? While GraphQL looks like a query language at first, I think its name might be one of the things that gets people off on the wrong foot. GraphQL is not at all like SQL...So GraphQL is a “query language” just like URLs are the “query language” of REST—it’s a contract that describes how to tell the API server what you’re looking for.

I like the separation from "structured" query language, and moving us to something that augments HTTP and the URL, and doesn't just tunnel into the backend database. This has the potential to move REST forward, not drag the database out front for me--which leaves me more hopeful.

Another area Sashko answered for me was regarding GraphQL seeming like it was too hard:

This is a very real concern whenever a new technology is introduced. Is this going to make stuff more complicated for everyone who isn’t in the know? 

Fair enough. Makes me happy to hear this from a service provider who is leading the charge when it comes to GraphQL. His stance seems like it is pragmatic, and aware of the importance that GraphQL needs to be accessible to as wide as possible audience as we can--building on the momentum REST has in this area.

What really pushed away my concern, and got me more interested in paying more attention to GraphQL was when Sashko talked about this just being the beginning:

The most exciting thing to me is that GraphQL has been publicly available for barely more than a year, and already a huge number of people I respect for their technical abilities and design thinking are trying to figure out ways to add it to their architecture. 

Ok. Now I want to see where this goes. I've been tracking on GraphQL as a subset of my data API research, but will spend some extra cycles each week keeping an eye who is doing anything interesting with GraphQL. I've added Apollo to my research, and I will work on a roundup of other providers, and any open source tooling I can find out there. I also wanted to thank Sashko for taking the time to answer some of my questions, and respond to my uncertainty around GraphQL. I dig it when API service providers and API providers provide responses to my storytelling on API Evangelist--makes for good conversation in the API community.


Be Straight Up About Internal Challenges When Hiring Your API Talent

I see an increasing number of job postings on LinkedIn and other job websites from companies who are actively seeking an API rockstar, ninja, lead, owner, or product manager, and because of my connections in the space I know that some of the intent behind them are less than sincere. Don't get me wrong, I think ALL companies should be embarking on their API journey, and if that means bringing in outside talent--get it done!

My motivation in writing this post is to help companies be more realistic during their talent search, and hiring process, as well as internally with their teams. As an IT and lead developer veteran, I have been brought in to take the reins on a number of teams and I have seen a wide range of toxic situations. I understand the internal struggles exist in all companies, but the companies that were the worst for me, were the ones where I was blindsided by the depth of the entrenchment and struggle with leadership and internal teams, either because they were in denial or were straight up bullshitting me--in hopes I might be able to wave my magic wand and just fix everything.

I've confidentially heard many stories from API product leads, and evangelists after exiting a company, or sometimes while they are still in their positions, about how entrenched internal leadership is when it comes to "innovation" and "change"--all while putting on a good show that APIs are truly the priority. I understand that companies want to look innovative, hip, agile, flexible, and all the things often associated with APIs, but bringing in API talent, only to let them hit a brick wall because they were unprepared just isn't good business.

If you are going to say that you are doing APIs, and issuing press releases, and promising your customers, partners, and internal stakeholders that you are going to do APIs, make sure you properly prepare any talent you are looking to lead the charge. I'm not saying the API journey will be easy, and you shouldn't be embarking on this journey. I am just recommending that do not go around hiring API talent, only to blindside them upon entry with entrenched, unwilling to evolve internal actors...or if this is the case just make sure you set the stage properly during the hiring process.


API Patent Search As Way To Discover Companies Who Are Doing APIs

I have been pulling all the patent applications from the USPTO for a while now. As I work to fire API Evangelist back up, I'm working to be more regular about processing these files, and track on which companies who are including the phrase "application programming interface" in their title, abstract, or full description. So far I have 23,414 API related patents from between 2005 and present day from 4,283 companies--not all of these APIs are "web APIs", but there are many that directly reference being a method for providing and consuming an API for whatever process is being defined.

  • Microsoft Corporation (2407)
  • International Business Machines Corporation (1803)
  • The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Navy (490)
  • Sun Microsystems, Inc. (386)
  • Amazon Technologies, Inc. (369)
  • The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Army (363)
  • Intel Corporation (337)
  • Qualcomm Incorporated (306)
  • MICROSOFT TECHNOLOGY LICENSING, LLC (298)
  • Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. (297)
  • Google Inc. (274)
  • Cisco Technology, Inc. (268)
  • Oracle International Corporation (252)
  • EMC Corporation (230)
  • SAP AG (201)
  • Silverbrook Research Pty Ltd (180)
  • Nvidia Corporation (172)
  • Canon Kabushiki Kaisha (152)
  • Apple Inc. (149)
  • Citrix Systems, Inc. (121)
  • Facebook, Inc. (120)
  • NetApp, Inc. (115)
  • Xerox Corporation (110)
  • National Instruments Corporation (109)
  • Oracle America, Inc. (107)
  • Symantec Corporation (101)
  • Adobe Systems Incorporated (101)
  • Symantec Operating Corporation (95)
  • Nokia Corporation (92)
  • Sandia Corporation (89)
  • The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Air Force (89)
  • Yahoo! Inc. (88)
  • Research In Motion Limited (85)
  • SAP SE (81)
  • Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (80)
  • Broadcom Corporation (76)
  • Sony Corporation (74)
  • Trading Technologies International, Inc. (72)
  • Red Hat, Inc. (71)
  • Sprint Communications Company L.P. (66)
  • AT&T Intellectual Property I, L.P. (66)
  • The Mathworks, Inc. (66)
  • VMware, Inc. (66)
  • Ricoh Company, Ltd. (61)
  • Fujitsu Limited (58)
  • BLACKBERRY LIMITED (56)
  • The Johns Hopkins University (54)
  • BEA Systems, Inc. (52)
  • Autodesk, Inc. (51)
  • Hitachi, Ltd. (49)
  • BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc. (49)
  • The Aerospace Corporation (47)
  • American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. (45)
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation (45)
  • Nortel Networks Limited (45)
  • The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (45)
  • Juniper Networks, Inc. (44)
  • Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd. (44)
  • Avaya Inc. (43)
  • eBay Inc. (43)
  • The Regents of the University of California (43)
  • Verizon Patent and Licensing Inc. (42)
  • Accenture LLP (42)
  • Harris Corporation (41)
  • Unisys Corporation (41)
  • United Technologies Corporation (41)
  • Network Appliance, Inc. (40)
  • CommVault Systems, Inc. (39)
  • Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (39)
  • Xilinx, Inc. (39)
  • Accenture Global Services Limited (38)
  • Honeywell International Inc. (38)
  • Verint Americas Inc. (38)
  • PAYPAL, INC. (38)
  • The Boeing Company (37)
  • University of South Florida (36)
  • Computer Associates Think, Inc. (35)
  • Metrologic Instruments, Inc. (35)
  • Shell Oil Company (35)
  • Alcatel Lucent (34)
  • Sharp Laboratories of America, Inc. (34)
  • Siebel Systems, Inc. (33)
  • Nuance Communications, Inc. (33)
  • Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (publ) (33)
  • Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson (Publ) (32)
  • Dell Products L.P. (32)
  • SAP Aktiengesellschaft (32)
  • Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (30)
  • Cree, Inc. (30)
  • Genentech, Inc. (30)
  • LG Electronics Inc. (29)
  • Bank of America Corporation (29)
  • AT&T Intellectual Property II, L.P. (28)
  • AOL Inc. (28)
  • Novell, Inc. (28)
  • Texas Instruments Incorporated (28)
  • Ciena Corporation (28)
  • Veritas Operating Corporation (28)
  • United Services Automobile Association (USAA) (27)
  • Sony Electronics Inc. (27)
  • salesforce.com, inc. (27)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (27)
  • NCR Corporation (26)
  • Akamai Technologies, Inc. (26)
  • Rockwell Automation Technologies, Inc. (26)
  • Seiko Epson Corporation (25)
  • California Institute of Technology (25)
  • Siemens Communications, Inc. (25)
  • NICIRA, INC. (25)
  • The United States of America as Represented by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (25)
  • Nokia Technologies Oy (25)
  • McAfee, Inc. (24)
  • AT&T Mobility II LLC (24)
  • Immersion Corporation (24)
  • Lucent Technologies Inc. (24)
  • DROPBOX, INC. (24)
  • Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc. (23)
  • Intuit Inc. (23)
  • Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. (23)
  • Google Technology Holdings LLC (23)
  • Sandia National Laboratories (23)
  • Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (22)
  • Symbol Technologies, Inc. (22)
  • Cox Communications, Inc. (22)
  • General Electric Company (22)
  • Motorola, Inc. (22)
  • Georgia Tech Research Corporation (22)
  • Accenture Global Services GmbH (21)
  • Verizon Business Global LLC (21)
  • ConforMIS, Inc. (21)
  • Raytheon Company (21)
  • AT&T Corp. (21)
  • ARUBA NETWORKS, INC. (21)
  • Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (20)
  • 3M Innovative Properties Company (20)
  • Intertrust Technologies Corp. (20)
  • Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba (20)
  • Mitutoyo Corporation (20)
  • The United States of America as represented by the United States Department of Energy (20)
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development LP (20)
  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (20)
  • Thomson Licensing (19)
  • NEC Corporation (19)
  • Teamon Systems, Inc. (19)
  • Micron Technology, Inc. (19)
  • Bally Gaming, Inc. (19)
  • Teradata US, Inc. (18)
  • Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (18)
  • Open Invention Network, LLC (18)
  • Alcatel (18)
  • Qualcomm, Incorporated (18)
  • Zynga Inc. (18)
  • Twilio, Inc. (18)
  • MicroUnity Systems Engineering, Inc. (17)
  • Panasonic Corporation (17)
  • Northwestern University (17)
  • Avid Technology, Inc. (17)
  • Ricoh Co., Ltd. (17)
  • Sprint Spectrum L.P. (17)
  • Palo Alto Research Center Incorporated (17)
  • University of Rochester (17)
  • Redknee Inc. (16)
  • Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. (16)
  • Intertrust Technologies Corporation (16)
  • Autocell Laboratories, Inc. (16)
  • HRL Laboratories, LLC (16)
  • Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (16)
  • THE TRUSTEES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA (16)
  • INTEL IP CORPORATION (16)
  • Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc. (15)
  • TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. (15)
  • Digimarc Corporation (15)
  • AOL LLC (15)
  • Dot Hill Systems Corporation (15)
  • Silicon Graphics, Inc. (15)
  • University of Southern California (15)
  • Board of Regents, The University of Texas System (15)
  • Duke University (15)
  • UChicago Argonne, LLC (15)
  • United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Army (15)
  • Hillcrest Laboratories, Inc. (15)
  • Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (14)
  • Trend Micro Incorporated (14)
  • Skyhook Wireless, Inc. (14)
  • GLOBALFOUNDRIES Inc. (14)
  • Fujifilm Corporation (14)
  • Empire Technology Development LLC (14)
  • LinkedIn Corporation (14)
  • ABBVIE INC. (14)
  • Cypress Semiconductor Corporation (13)
  • NTT DoCoMo, Inc. (13)
  • Sybase, Inc. (13)
  • Roy-G-Biv Corporation (13)
  • Whirlpool Corporation (13)
  • Impinj, Inc. (13)
  • Oracle International Corp. (13)
  • Disney Enterprises, Inc. (13)
  • The Regents of the University of Michigan (13)
  • Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (13)
  • University of Tennessee Research Foundation (13)
  • The United States of America represented by the Secretary of the Navy (13)
  • Tilera Corporation (12)
  • Invensys Systems, Inc. (12)
  • IGT (12)
  • Seagate Technology LLC (12)
  • Visa International Service Association (12)
  • Phoenix Solutions, Inc. (12)
  • Habanero Holdings, Inc. (12)
  • Fortinet, Inc. (12)
  • Openwave Systems Inc. (12)
  • University of Utah Research Foundation (12)
  • Qwest Communications International Inc. (12)
  • Qualcomm Inc. (12)
  • America Online, Inc. (12)
  • Nant Holdings IP, LLC (12)
  • STC.UNM (12)
  • The Nielsen Company (US), LLC (12)
  • Palm, Inc. (11)
  • InterDigital Technology Corporation (11)
  • Siemens Enterprise Communications, Inc. (11)
  • Exbiblio B.V. (11)
  • A9.Com, Inc. (11)
  • Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc. (11)
  • The Invention Science Fund I, LLC (11)
  • Trading Technologies International Inc. (11)
  • AT&T Intellectual Property I, LP (11)
  • Agilent Technologies, Inc. (11)
  • iAnywhere Solutions, Inc. (11)
  • WIPRO Limited (11)
  • CA, INC. (11)
  • BROTHER KOGYO KABUSHIKI KAISHA (11)
  • Drexel University (11)
  • Ford Global Technologies, LLC (11)
  • Vixs Systems, Inc. (11)
  • QUALCOMM, Inc. (11)
  • MicroStrategy Incorporated (11)
  • Silicon Storage Technology, Inc. (10)
  • BGC Partners, Inc. (10)
  • Emulex Design & Manufacturing Corporation (10)
  • Diebold Self-Service Systems division of Diebold, Incorporated (10)
  • QLOGIC, Corporation (10)
  • Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (10)
  • American Megatrends, Inc. (10)
  • United States Postal Service (10)
  • Landmark Graphics Corporation (10)
  • Infineon Technologies AG (10)
  • Cingular Wireless II, LLC (10)
  • Western Digital Technologies, Inc. (10)
  • United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Navy (10)
  • Open Text S.A. (10)
  • Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (10)
  • The United States of America, as represented by the Secretary of the Army (10)
  • Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. (10)
  • Splunk Inc. (10)
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  • NXP B.V. (1)
  • NANT HOLDINGS IP. LLC (1)
  • NEWSWHIP MEDIA LIMITED (1)
  • GVBB Holdings S.A.R.L. (1)
  • Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC (1)
  • VISA U.S.A (1)
  • salesforces.com, inc. (1)
  • Cox Enterprises, Inc. (1)
  • Auckland Uniservices Limited (1)
  • Laureate Education, Inc. (1)
  • Protonex Technology Corporation (1)
  • APPLIED MICRO CIRCUITS CORPORATION (1)
  • ADVA Optical Networking SE (1)
  • ARM Technologies Israel Ltd. (1)
  • eZuce, Inc. (1)
  • Wayport, Inc. (1)
  • Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (1)
  • Zentera Systems, Inc. (1)
  • iStreamPlanet Co. (1)
  • Wistron Corporation (1)
  • Benbria Corporation (1)
  • Nocimed, Inc. (1)
  • Curators of the University of Missouri (1)
  • FZIOMED, Inc. (1)
  • ECO VERDE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (1)
  • Verinata Health, Inc. (1)
  • University of Sydney (1)
  • Polestar Technologies, Inc. (1)
  • Circassia Limited (1)
  • Zeco Systems Pte Ltd (1)
  • ECRIO, INC. (1)
  • Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. (1)
  • AUDI AG (1)
  • QRC, INC. (1)
  • Aclara Meters LLC (1)
  • INPHI CORPORATION (1)
  • DIGITAL REASONING SYSTEMS, INC. (1)
  • Greenfly, Inc. (1)
  • Cay Baxis Holdings, LLC (1)
  • Unreel Entertainment LLC (1)
  • XBRANCH, LLC (1)
  • AutoGraph, Inc. (1)
  • E-Secure Corporation (1)
  • BEIJING QIHOO TECHNOLOGY COMPANY LIMITED (1)
  • IMPINJ, INC (1)
  • Dante Consulting, Inc. (1)
  • Boefly, LLC (1)
  • Fitly Inc. (1)
  • SAGAMI CHEMICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE (1)
  • Tessera, Inc. (1)
  • SRC, INC. (1)
  • iBiquity Digital Corporation (1)
  • Zscaler. Inc. (1)
  • TRUSTPIPE LLC (1)
  • Jakamo Oy (1)
  • COGWARE PTY LTD (1)
  • CyberPoint International LLC (1)
  • SecurityProfiling, LLC (1)
  • INDUSTRY-UNIVERSITY COOPERATION FOUNDATION HANYANG UNIVERSITY (1)
  • Numerex Corp. (1)
  • Kyung Hee University Industry Academic (1)
  • 935 KOP Associates, LLC (1)
  • IP.Access Limited (1)
  • GIULIANI S.P.A. (1)
  • AmSafe, Inc. (1)
  • HARMAN INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRIES, INC. (1)
  • The University of Sheffield (1)
  • Aspen Technology, Inc. (1)
  • Driven, Inc. (1)
  • CIDEON Software GmbH & Co. KG (1)
  • Entreda, Inc. (1)
  • Atlassian Pty Ltd (1)
  • Klarna AB (1)
  • WOLFRAM ALPHA LLC (1)
  • IMDb.com, Inc. (1)
  • WIBU-Systems AG (1)
  • TeleSign Corporation (1)
  • Qvidian, Inc. (1)
  • NEOLOGY, INC. (1)
  • GumGum, Inc. (1)
  • Zazzle Inc. (1)
  • HOPTO INC. (1)
  • MDI SECURITY, LLC (1)
  • Atmel Corporation (1)
  • Gamblit Gaming, LLC (1)
  • FTC Sensors, LLC (1)
  • Virginia Innovation Sciences, Inc (1)
  • PME IP PTY LTD (1)
  • YAZAKI CORPORATION (1)
  • QRC, INC. DBA QRC TECHNOLOGIES (1)
  • MITAKE INFORMATION CORPORATION (1)
  • T-Central, Inc. (1)
  • Intralinks, Inc. (1)
  • ATTIVO NETWORKS INC. (1)
  • Litera Technology LLC (1)
  • PERSON TO VEHICLE S.L. (1)
  • UXP Systems Inc. (1)
  • IMDb.com (1)
  • Hill-Rom Services, Inc. (1)
  • The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama, for and on behalf of The University of Alabama in Huntsville (1)
  • The United States of America, as represented by the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services (1)
  • ADVANCED LIQUID LOGIC, INC. (1)
  • Celanese Acetate LLC (1)
  • Nate J. Coleman and Aexius, LLC (1)
  • Nant Holdings IP LLC (1)
  • Tribune Broadcasting Company, LLC (1)
  • Reversing Labs Holding GmbH (1)
  • Duelight LLC (1)
  • CUMUCUS SYSTEMS INCORPORATED (1)
  • BloomReach Inc. (1)
  • UNIQUESOFT, LLC (1)
  • LASTLINE, INC. (1)
  • Anonos Inc. (1)
  • AERODATA, INC. (1)
  • Bundesdruckerei GmbH (1)
  • Tyco Electronics Raychem BVBA (1)
  • Good Technology Corporation (1)
  • Impact Engine, Inc. (1)
  • ITTIAM SYSTEMS (P) LTD. (1)
  • GAMING GRIDS, LLC (1)
  • Manjrasoft Pty. Ltd. (1)
  • The United States Postal Service (1)
  • MX TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (1)
  • Traitperception Inc. (1)
  • Precision Machinery Research & Development Center (1)
  • Yammer, Inc. (1)
  • Mirsani, LLC (1)
  • DIALOGTECH INC. (1)
  • Musco Corporation (1)
  • Duvon Corporation (1)
  • BIT CAULDRON CORPORATION (1)
  • ArthroCare Corporation (1)
  • COSUCRA-GROUPE WARCOING SA (1)
  • MOTI Sports, Inc. (1)
  • Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing LLC (1)
  • Allison Transmission, Inc. (1)
  • TAIGA BIOTECHNOLOGIES, INC. (1)
  • LANZATECH NEW ZEALAND LIMITED (1)
  • OPTICUL DIAGNOSTICS INC. (1)
  • The United States of America as represented by the Secretary at the Navy (1)
  • LINQUET TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (1)
  • Enovate Medical, LLC (1)
  • Tangentix Limited (1)
  • Arista Networks, Inc. (1)
  • HGST Netherlands B.V. (1)
  • BUSINESS OBJECTS SOFTWARE, LTD. (1)
  • Software AG USA Inc. (1)
  • BRIGHTEDGE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (1)
  • Maxeler Technologies Ltd. (1)
  • Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (1)
  • PagerDuty, Inc. (1)
  • QUOSAL, LLC (1)
  • Topcon Positioning Systems, Inc. (1)
  • Moj.io Inc. (1)
  • Energous Corporation (1)
  • POWER FOREST TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION (1)
  • Network Kinetix, LLC (1)
  • Zscaler, Inc. (1)
  • Azuan Technologies S.A. (1)
  • NetSuite Inc. (1)
  • Mustbin Inc. (1)
  • Sizmek Technologies Ltd. (1)
  • Lock2Learn, LLC (1)
  • PERCY 3DMEDIA, INC. (1)
  • Telefonica, S.A. (1)
  • RSUPPORT Co., Ltd. (1)
  • University of Washington Through its Center for Commercialization (1)
  • Incept, LLC (1)
  • UNIVERSITAETSKLINIKUM FREIBURG (1)
  • Orbis Health Solutions LLC (1)
  • MEDELA HOLDING AG (1)
  • BLACKPAK, INC. (1)
  • Dioxide Materials, Inc. (1)
  • Play-i, Inc. (1)
  • Pharmacyclics LLC (1)
  • INDUSTRY-ACADEMIC COOPERATION FOUNDATION, YONSEI UNIVERSITY (1)
  • INDIANA UNIVERSITY RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION (1)
  • INTREXON CORPORATION (1)
  • Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd. (1)
  • Omniboard, Inc. (1)
  • SR LABS S.R.L. (1)
  • Marmalade Technologies Limited, a United Kingdom Private Limited Company (1)
  • ATERNITY INFORMATION SYSTEMS LTD. (1)
  • STORSIMPLE, INC. (1)
  • Infosys Technologies, Ltd. (1)
  • NEURA, INC. (1)
  • WGRS LICENSING COMPANY, LLC (1)
  • ID DATAWEB, INC. (1)
  • Anonyome Labs, Inc. (1)
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute (1)
  • Winshuttle, LLC (1)
  • Codebroker, LLC (1)
  • ThinCI, Inc. (1)
  • TRANSPARENT WIRELESS SYSTEMS, LLC (1)
  • Motio, Inc. (1)
  • Jackpot Rising Inc. (1)
  • SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC IT CORPORATION (1)
  • Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (1)
  • Mercury Kingdom Assets Limited (1)
  • ISLAND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, LLC (1)
  • BroadSoft, Inc. (1)
  • AOL Advertising Inc. (1)
  • WHATSAPP INC. (1)
  • NOBLE SYSTEMS CORPORATION (1)
  • Language Line Services, Inc. (1)
  • ALL REST TECHNOLOGIES LLP (1)
  • LENSAR, LLC (1)
  • Tangent Reprofiling Limited (1)
  • The University of British Columbia (1)
  • SurModics, Inc. (1)
  • King Saud University (1)
  • ST. UNM (1)
  • MesoCoat Inc. (1)
  • JNC PETROCHEMICAL CORPORATION (1)
  • IT-IS International Limited (1)
  • ADVANCED LIQUID LOGIC, INC (1)
  • Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. (1)
  • TIGO ENERGY, INC. (1)
  • NETTAPP, INC. (1)
  • Micosoft Technology Licensing, LLC (1)
  • Cylance Inc. (1)
  • COGNIZANT TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS INDIA PVT. LTD. (1)
  • Societal Innovations IPCO Limited (1)
  • Advanced Elemental Technologies, Inc. (1)
  • Springpath, Inc. (1)
  • PMDA SERVICES PTY LTD (1)
  • Veeam Software AG (1)
  • VIOLIN MEMORY INC. (1)
  • TPLA LAB, INC. (1)
  • VCVC III LLC (1)
  • faceshift AG (1)
  • D2L CORPORATION (1)
  • Infineon Technologies Americas Corp. (1)
  • The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama (1)
  • Avay Inc. (1)
  • SPOTIFY AB (1)
  • JSC Yukon Advanced Optics Worldwide (1)
  • Insitu, Inc. (1)
  • VERINT SYSTEMS LTD. (1)
  • AirHop Communications, Inc. (1)
  • CommScope Technologies LLC (1)
  • AF CHEMICALS LLC (1)
  • Kineta One, LLC (1)
  • FZIOMED, INC (1)
  • Baxter Healthcare S.A. (1)
  • Diabetomics, Inc. (1)
  • The United States of America as represented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dept. of Justice (1)
  • LG CHEM, LTD. (1)
  • Radial, Inc. (1)
  • SandDisk Technologies LLC (1)
  • Mattel, Inc. (1)
  • CLEARCENTER, CORP. (1)
  • VIOLIN MEMORY (1)
  • Release Consulting Limited (1)
  • LG CNS CO., LTD. (1)
  • Exigen Properties, Inc. (1)
  • POSTECH ACADEMYu2014INDUSTRY FOUNDATION (1)
  • Boomerang Technology Holdings, LLC (1)
  • Aria Solutions, Inc. (1)
  • Yahoo! (1)
  • Thwapr, Inc. (1)
  • STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMONILE INSURANCE COMPANY (1)
  • Ikanos Communications, Inc. (1)
  • UBiQOMM, INC. (1)
  • UTHERVERSE DIGITAL, INC. (1)
  • Raketu Communications, Inc. (1)
  • Blab, Inc. (1)
  • CIZION (1)
  • Speaktoit, Inc. (1)
  • Kofax, Inc. (1)
  • PERSONIFY, INC. (1)
  • Espial Group Inc. (1)
  • Good Egg Media LLC (1)
  • Phibro Animal Health Corp. (1)
  • The Hospital For Sick Children (1)
  • Loma Linda University (1)
  • Leidos, Inc. (1)
  • Road-IQ, LLC (1)
  • Toyota Motor Corporation (1)
  • GENEWEAVE BIOSCIENCES, INC. (1)
  • New West Technologies, LLC (1)
  • AIL RESEARCH INC. (1)
  • ZERTO LTD. (1)
  • Zettar, Inc. (1)
  • INTROSPEX, INC. (1)
  • Reversinglabs Corporation (1)
  • FOURSQUARE LABS, INC. (1)
  • ZEPHYR HEALTH, INC. (1)
  • Flow Search Corp. (1)
  • Reid Consulting Group, Inc. (1)
  • LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. (1)
  • Monolith Innovations LLC (1)
  • ZEROFOOTPRINT SOFTWARE INC. (1)
  • Lemon, Inc. (1)
  • JAVELIN DIRECT INC. (1)
  • PHARMA-SMART INTERNATIONAL, INC. (1)
  • ClearOne Inc. (1)
  • SANMINA CORPORATION (1)
  • Infinite Convergence Solutions, Inc (1)
  • VERIZON DIGITAL MEDIA SERVICES INC. (1)
  • VEEVA SYSTEMS, INC. (1)
  • Control4 Corporation (1)
  • Zoosk, Inc. (1)
  • Movirtu Limited (1)
  • FOREST SAFETY PRODUCTS LIMITED (1)
  • Koning Corporation (1)
  • Dresden University of Technology (1)
  • Quintessence Biosciences, Inc. (1)
  • SAREPTA THERAPEUTICS, INC. (1)
  • University of Akron (1)
  • VIA ALLIANCE SEMICONDUCTOR CO., LTD. (1)
  • Oce Printing Systems GmbH & Co. KG (1)
  • PLUMGRID, INC. (1)
  • Orange (1)
  • IP RESERVOIR, LLC (1)
  • CUMULUS SYSTEMS, INC. (1)
  • Codex Corporation (1)
  • ABB Research Ltd. (1)
  • BOMEANS INDUSTRIAL INC. (1)
  • Wochit, Inc. (1)
  • ClipMine, Inc. (1)
  • TOSOH CORPORATION (1)
  • RADEUM, INC. (1)
  • Waldeck Technology LLC (1)
  • Illumio, Inc. (1)
  • NTRUST TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS CORP. (1)
  • Elastic Path Software, Inc. (1)
  • Beco, Inc. (1)

I will be added all 4,283 of these companies to my API monitoring system, keeping an eye out on their website, blog, and their Twitter and Github profiles for anything API. Along with process press releases for API.report, I am thinking that patent applications will become a fruitful way for finding companies who are doing APIs, but might not be that good at actually showcasing it on their sites. It seems that many companies feel that APIs are important enough to mention in a press release, and file patents for, but don't always see them as valuable enough to showcase on their website.

Many of these APIs are hardware, networking, and non-web APIs, but with the way the Internet of Things is going, if these companies are doing APIs of any shape or size, it is likely they will be doing web APIs as well. It is kind of a dark way to keep a pulse on the API space, and not the way I'd prefer to be doing it, but I want to make sure I am aware of all things APIs, especially the shit that is going on in the shadows.


After Looking Through 23414 API Patents I Think It Will Just Come Down To Who Litigates

After looking through the 23,414 API related patents from between 2005 and present day from 4,283 companies, it is clear that the API patent game will be all about which companies decide to litigate using their "intellectual property". There is definitely a lot of education that could occur across all industries where these patents will be put to work, and hopefully we can see some reforms at the USPTO regarding how important it is to the economy that the APIs themselves to remain open and reusable, but I think that ultimately the world of API patents will be hammered out in courts across the United States, and other countries around the world.

While I'm not a fan of the concept of the patent, especially when they are applied to algorithms and abstract ideas, I cannot intelligently argue for companies to not patent the "process that occurs behind the API" (at the moment), however I feel pretty strongly that it is pretty critical that the concept of the API should be left out of the process. At the moment I'm just not knowledgeable enough on the whole software patent world to know what the hell I am talking about, which is why I have my API patent research to help me evolve my awareness and understanding and strengthen my position.

To compliment my patent research, I am going to start pulling any court cases for the 4,283 companies who have filed API related patents across 471 jurisdictions in the United States using the CourtListener API, so that I can identify any potential litigation that involves their patent portfolio. Like the other 75 areas of the API universe that I keep an eye on, I'll just keep watching the patent applications, profiling the companies who are filing them, and see who has the most API patents, and most importantly the ones who are actually using these patents in a court of law.


23K Patent Applications With API References Since 2005

I am working to organize the 23,414 API related patents from between 2005 and present day, submitted by 4,283 companies--present in my API patent research. Not all of these APIs are "web APIs", but I think each companies portfolio tells a lot of what they are doing with APIs, their motivations behind, and is also a reflection on the overall state of the industry.

To help me better understand the growth in API related patents I'm slicing and dicing the data, and publishing in different ways--I recently dumped the number of patents by year and published as a D3.js bar chart.

It is pretty depressing to see the growth in patent applications that mention "application programming interface". I'm not sure what this means, but I know it can't be good for making the web work. I'll keep slicing and dicing things, and see if I can keep deriving any meaning from it all. I'm thinking I will publish each companies patent portfolio by itself, as I work to profile each company to see what they are up to with APIs.


Why Do Companies Who Ask Me To Update Their Logo Never Have Branding Page?

When processing the news for API.Report, and the over 150 areas of my API industry research, I spend a good deal of time looking for images to represent my stories, and the companies I'm covering. When looking for an image to best represent a company I always search google for "[company name] logo branding", and look for an official branding and logo guidelines page for a company--secondarily I switch over the image search if there is no official page available.

After a blog post, news piece, or research update goes live, I will sometimes receive a DM or email from a company asking me to update the logo, to a newer option than what I found via a Google search. I'm always happy to update the logo, and since my images are centrally stored on Amazon S3 it is pretty easy to do so. What I find interesting is that every company who actively polices their brand in this way never have an easy to find branding and logo area for their company and API operations.

 I fully understand the need to police your brand and make sure your company's logo is represented in the best light, but what I don't understand is why they don't have a self-service branding area to help empower folks like me to do this on their own. It just seems like a lot of extra work that is unecessary or at least is something that you could minimize by providing a dedicated page where folks like me can find the most recent copy of your logo. 


The Sustained API Storytelling Assault On The Banking Industry

After monitoring the tech space, and specifically the API space for six years now I really have feel for how stories are used try incite change in a variety of industries. There are many different waves of storytelling out of companies and tech blogs, which in the moment might seem like reality, but if you wait a month or two the topics run out of steam and go away--very few are sustained unless there is something really there there.

Many companies are just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will resonate with the tech blogs, and their readers. Unless you monitor ALL the blogs like I do, you most often won't see these trends as being seeded by specific companies, VCs, and those looking to see what sticks. I've seen topics like quantified-self evolve into wearables, waves of database to API solutions come and go, check-in API platforms like Foursquare lose their allure, and concepts like BaaS and open government data fall from grace.

It can be hard to tell if these things were just momentary trends if they were propped up through investment and storytelling, or like open government data, BaaS, and database to API solutions, continue their usage, but just aren't cool for tech blogs and other folks to talk about anymore. One of these areas I can't quite figure out is in the area of banking APIs, which seems to have legs, but most of the time it just seems like a sustained API storytelling assault on the banking industry from outside forces.

There are usually 3-5 stories a week that I come across talking about the importance of API transformation in the banking industries and how banks face becoming irrelevant if they don't embrace--clearly stories from those trying to change the industry. I see evidence of roots developing, because of the regulation put in motion by the UK, but I see still don't see much evidence that banks really give a shit about any of this.

When I look at the list of largest banks in the United States on Wikipedia, the only one doing APIs in an organized way, that stands out for me, is Capital One. At this point, I'm guessing the sustained assault on the industry is coming from the waves of banking and fintech startups? IDK. If this is all seeded by the banking layer to the fintech (r)evolution, it seems more sustained than other industries I've tracked on--usually, they run out of steam after a couple of months. I'd be curious to hear people's thoughts on the API evolution in the banking industry. Are banks actually giving a nod to the concept? Or are they just going to be weathering this assault, knowing they have the resources to do business on their terms?


Mapping Your Social Media Footprint As Part Of Your API Security Strategy

Profiling the social media footprint of API related companies is what I do for a living. If you are doing something mildly interesting with an API I will add your Twitter, and Github accounts to my database. I will also go through Twitter, LinkedIn, and Github looking for all your employees and profile them. This is how I monitor the world of APIs, by profiling, and staying in tune with the companies, and what their employees are up to.

While immersed in some "dark reading" I was pleasantly surprised to see "identify your organization’s social media footprint (companies, accounts, and key individuals)", as the top item on the list of things you can do to "shore up their social media and network defenses". This concept is a no-brainer for me, but I wonder how many companies actually have an up to date map of their companies social media footprint? If they are savvy they have this in place, as well as established for all of their competitors. #SmartStrategy

It is easy to think of security in purely a technical sense, DNS, servers, and software, but as the world of shadow IT and social media has become common in every company, institution, and government agency, how many companies are actively mapping out this landscape, and proactively working to secure it? As a tech professional who runs my own business I actively work to define ALL the online services I use, not just the social media ones--it just makes good business sense.


Making Web Concepts and Specs Present As Real Time Help In API Design Tooling

I took the Github repository for Erik Wilde's (@dret) Web Concepts work and forked it, then generated some JSON which I could use to import into my API monitoring system. I've been manually adding specs to my Tweet and LinkedIn scheduling system, but I keep forgetting to go back to the site and add more entries. So I wanted to go ahead and import all the concepts and specs, and schedule out the tweets and LinkedIn posts for everything, over the next couple months.

First I generated the JSON for the concepts:

Then I generated the JSON for the specs:

I left out the relationships between the concepts and specs, as I will just be linking to Web Concepts, and let people explore for themselves. As I was looking through the JSON I got me thinking about why these concepts and specs aren't available in API design tooling, as helpers and tooltips, so that API designers and architects can learn from them and be reminded in real time--as they are crafting their APIs. 

It seems like there should be autocomplete for HTTP header fields, and for HTTP status codes, and other relevant items as they are needed. There is a wealth of web literacy available in Erik's work, and across the web concepts and specs he has organized, it seems like these should be available by default within API design services and tooling, and start being baked into IDEs like Atom, Eclipse, and Visual Studio--maybe they already are, and I'm just unaware.


API Design Skills Required For Cyber Intelligence and Counter Intelligence

It is hard for me to track on everything in the API space as a one man show, but one thing I keep an eye on, but rarely add to my research (yet) are the increasing number of job postings I come across that have an API focus. An interesting one this week, which follows a new vein in the API space that I'm mining, is out of the applied science technology research organization Battelle.

They have an interesting job posting for a cyber computer scientist with Battelle’s Cyber Innovation Unit (CIU) providing "a broad range of products and services including Cyber Intelligence and Counter Intelligence, Cyber Research and Development and Fundamental Science, On­site Advisory Services, and Mission Focused tools including Embedded Systems Reverse Engineering." 

What brought the job posting up on my radar is one of the responsibilities being for "data APIs", and a requirement (mentioned twice) for having API design skills. The role APIs are playing in the areas of cyber security, cyber intelligence, and apparently "cyber innovation" is why I recently added cybersecurity as a research area to my API monitoring stack. It's not that APIs are being hacked, it is that they are being used for research, analysis, collaboration, communication, and other layers of the cybersecurity theater.

If I keep coming across interesting job postings like this I may have to start tracking on API jobs more, as the overall volume of API jobs that are coming across my radar is increasing, but also the interestingness is also trending upward significantly. 



Why APIs Are Just The Next Step Of The Web And Not The Latest Trend

I am always amazed at the amount of hype, rhetoric, and FUD that is stirred up by analysts, vendors, and the tech blogosphere when it comes to APIs. APIs are the next big wave in vendor solutions! APIs are going away because of bots! People love to build them up to be something they are not, something which I mostly blame vendors, venture capital investment, and the analysts and tech blogosphere for stirring this pot to meet their objectives.

To help cut through the BS, I like to always have a basic demonstration of what an API is handy, and its relationship to the web, in hopes that I will educate the muggles (my new word--thanks @caseysoftware), and balance the BS scales a bit as we go along. To help do this I wanted to provide you with three types of common resources that you find on the web, each with four basic ways of representing them using web technology.

All three of these resources are available at a demonstration website I have set up at website.apievangelist.com, with each resource available in their respective folders /blog, /products, and /services. Using the links below you can click on the different representations of each on, and the results should show in the text area below.

The only technology driving this is the basic website setup on a simple Linux (Fedora) web server, running Apache to deliver the website--nothing else. The only difference between a website and API is that a website returns HTML meant for humans, and API (representations) return XML, JSON, RSS, meant for other applications and systems--that is ALL. There is no vendor voodoo, it is just about returning the same information, but meant for use in other websites, mobile applications, systems integrations, and increasingly device based solutions.

The FUD I hear about APIs going away, or just being a trend always make me chuckle. These claims always sound just like the folks who used to tell me in 1998 and 1999 about the web being a fad--what do these claims sound like in 2016? Is delivering HTML to humans going away, any more so than delivering JSON to mobile devices, or IoT devices? What will go away and change are people's delusions around open APIs, and specific vendor and VC centric views on what is API--not delivering machine-readable representations of data, content, media, and algorithms that are already driving the human web experience.

Once you realize that an API is just the next step in the evolution of the web, and is about negotiating exactly the representation of a digital resource that you desire--you will begin to see things a little differently. When you see APIs as the web, and not as any particular API provider, or service providers vision of API, you will find the world looks a lot different, and that APIs aren't going anywhere--no matter what they are called in future iterations. The will always be programmatic interfaces meant for other applications.


Treating New API Startups Like The Companies They Will Become

I get a number of eager new entrepreneurs contacting me, looking for wisdom and insight about the API space. I've always worked to make myself accessible to people who are looking for knowledge around what is possible with APIs, and what is happening across the API space. Sadly, after six years and watching many companies come and go, I'm slowly changing this practice when it comes to startups.

I have always been open with my knowledge on the space, and happy to schedule time for a gHangout or Skype call with each wave of new API startups, but after watching many of them grow up, get more funding, find their exits, acquisitions, and failures--I just can't keep doing it in good conscious. In my experience, only about 5% of these companies actually care about the space, their customers, and the rest are only focused on their own success and the success of their investors.

Most of these entrepreneurs do not understand the damage to the wider community that their selfish focus brings. My requests to give back to the community in the form of open API designs patterns, open source software, storytelling, and supporting conversations like @APIStrat often go right over their head. Usually, they talk with me 2 or 3 times, get what they need, and go away without ever giving back. Why would they give back to the community, if I'm so willing to just give it away--extract maximum value, and give nothing back is their belief system.

I'm sorry but APIs aren't failing us, our startup and funding models are failing us. I do not anticipate this getting any better with the recent shifts in the funding landscape, and the increased amount of attention paid by, and to the enterprise. I will continue giving via my blog, but will become much more picky about who I jump on the phone, skype, or gHangout with. I'm sorry, but if you want this to be different, you can start by working to set a different tone in the API space by giving back, sharing, and invest more in the community, and open web technologies--not just focusing on getting rich, your proprietary tech, locking up resources, profiting off your users data, and leaving everyone behind once you get yours.


The Internet of Things Is An Opportunity For API Deployment As Well As Consumption

Overall I am pretty underwhelmed by the Internet of Things. Most of the ways in which devices are being connected to the Internet are not very interesting, if not just a bad idea. Even with the overwhelming ways in which I am being underwhelmed by IoT, there are a handful of areas that I do find interesting, like industrial implementations, drones, and the general potential of the concept when you do it thoughtfully and securely.

One of the differences between IoT and the other areas that are fueling APIs in 2016 is that they can be both an API provider, as well as an API consumer. While mobile applications have historically been the biggest driver of API development, they are just API consumers, as are most websites. There is a handful of API aggregation and integration as a service providers who consumer APIs, then also provide APIs who pay this forward (sadly not all API service providers do this), but in the end, most endpoints are just consumers.

When it comes to IoT devices, this is where it gets interesting to me. These Internet-enabled devices can be both API consumers, and API providers--which I think everyone should be, but that is another dimension to this conversation. Deploying Linux, virtualized containers like Docker, and a web server on Raspberry Pi and other popular IoT devices is pretty trivial. This opens up the ability to not just send and receive data to the cloud via APIs, but also a number of possibilities for redefining the network--where APIs are not just about the current incarnation of cloud APIs.

I'm not saying that all implementations of IoT devices in this way will be interesting, but It does evolve the definition of what is possible when it comes APIs, especially when you couple this with the expanding definition of what is the network (ie. cellular, mesh, SDN, etc.). However, it does also continue expanding the attack surface area when it comes to IoT security, but I'm sure everyone is thinking deeply on this subject when it comes to evaluating whether or not a device should be connected to the network at all. ;-)


Enterprise Does Not Know (Care) How Big And Destructive It Is To APIs

I feel like the enterprise has successfully rounded up the escaped experiment that is API, and got it under control. With its size and scope it didn't really even notice APIs until 2012 or so, and once it did it quickly joined the "conversation" to make sure it wasn't left out of what the cool kids were doing. Now in 2016, if you want to get the funding you have to have enterprise customers already, and if you are doing APIs and selling to the enterprise you have to speak in their terms "microservices"--as the concept of APIs never actually got approved by legal--microservices has.

It seems like the simplicity, low cost, and user-centricity of APIs will be paved over at every turn, replacing the web in API with more vendor-friendly solutions with an HTTP facade that smiles like it's the web. The enterprise does not care about open standards, except for making sure they have joined and are sitting at the table, talking over everyone, and making sure their way of doing business is baked in--making standards less about community and more about the industry, like web services are.

I said it before, and I'll say it again. The enterprise will never get API because of the simplicity of them, the getting to know your resources, your community, and end-users does not fit with the scope and scale at which the enterprise operates. I know. I know. To get the price down, you have to do things at scale. I think this was a much truer statement before the Internet. The web can operate at "web scale", as many small nodes all working together--it doesn't require a single massive entity to operate.

I am sorry sharing and playing nicely with others isn't part of the equation at your enterprise. I would prefer it if you'd go back to your SOA ways and just leave us alone, but I understand that this will never happen now--we can never go back. You will never understand, and will never see how destructive your belief system is to this little experiment, or maybe that is the point--you want to just kill it, so you can get back to your way of doing things.


Company X's Competitive Advantage Is That They Have An API

I have been thinking about the Twilio IPO a lot lately, as it seems to be well received by the market. I am trying to be realistic about this, and work to understand how much the API thing actually has anything to do with how well investors have received the company which we all love to showcase in the API space. I would like to think the "muggles", as my friend Keith Casey (@caseysoftware) calls them, understand the competitive advantage an API brings, but I just can't quite sell myself on the fact that this is the reality.

As I'm mulling over this I am also working to get my API.Report news channel back up and running after taking a break this summer, and I'm noticing more companies are showcasing the existence of an API when talking about acquisitions, partnerships, and other market-related events. I blogged about this the previous week when FullContact acquired a company, partly due to the fact they were using their API, but it is also interesting to see APIs be wielded to also influence wider markets, not in acquisition scenarios.

I guess the increased usage of APIs as a competitive advantage for courting would-be buyers, and the wooing of general markets is a good thing. Each time it is wielded, more muggles get exposed to what an API is. The problem comes in when this is wielded for companies who do not live up to market hype or expectations, or the API really isn't even a thing--it is just wielded to make a company sound cool. I'm a little mixed on this one, and it will have to be something I will keep watching, and trying to understand what it actually means for the API space, as I generally could care less about the market performance of companies--except Twilio, I <3 Twilio.


Why I Added Cybersecurity To My API Monitoring Research

I recently added a new area of research to API Evangelist focused on cybersecurity. I added this area of research not because APIs are being used to hack systems, which does happen occasionally. I did this because I wanted to better tune into this area because APIs are being applied by all sides (are there sides?) to communicate, evaluate cybersecurity events, and spread their message--which is a significant part of what is cybersecurity.

When APIs aren't properly secured, and a breach occurs, I consider this a security topic and file it under my API security research. If something occurs in the wider global security theater, I file it under my cybersecurity research. This research doesn't always directly touch on APIs, but in many cases like the recent DNC hacks APIs are being used to analyze, study, share stories, and communicate around these often ongoing cybesecurity events.

I am seeing APIs often being used as part of the levers pulled when it comes to the theater of cybersecurity, whether its anonymous bitcoin ransom payments, Guccifer 2.0 spreading the story of a recent breach of Twitter, or researchers doing their forensic studies. As with other areas of my API monitoring, establishing a dedicated research project helps me tune in closer to what is going on, identify key actors, and better understand the role of APIs in the fast-growing world of cybersecurity.


The Ways That API Providers Are Using Twitter

I am using Twitter more like an RSS feed these days. I pull the Tweets of the companies I track on once a day, and I scan / read them (when I have time), and either curate them or mark as read. I'm not happy with the Twitter algorithm, and I'm looking to get information straight from the horse's mouth, when I want, on my terms. I cringe at the fact I'm using Twitter as an RSS / Atom feed, but it is working well for me.

I'm seeing several benefits of this approach, but one of them is getting a feel for some of the common patterns around how API providers are putting Twitter to work. So far I am seeing some pretty distinct approaches emerge:

  • Not At All - They have a Twitter account, but they rarely ever Tweet anything.
  • Sharing Their Blog Posts - They only tweet out blog posts, and often do not have RSS / Atom for their blog (grrrrrrrrr!!).
  • Sharing Other Blog Posts  - Only use Twitter as a syndication engine for what they read in the space.
  • Supporting Developers - Many Twitter accounts are just streams of support responses for the community.
  • Communication - Using it to communicate with partners, and developers, engaging in conversation with their community.

Most of the API providers I monitor only operate in one or two of these areas, with only a few who are hitting in all of these areas. I'm going to start ranking the Twitter accounts of the APIs out there, and identify the ones who are doing it well. Then I will start showcasing more of them, as the leading accounts to emulate when API providers are trying to figure out their own rhythm.

I am not perfect when it comes to Twitter and delivering in all of these areas. Recently I've stepped away from being too conversational, and I mostly share my blog posts, and those of others, more than actually engaging in conversation. This is just my personality, and also reflects the brand I'm trying to evolve into over next five years of my operations--it is helping me scale things. I do not think there will be one formula that works across the board, but if we can identify what the healthy patterns are, I think API providers will have more to consider when crafting their own strategy, and finding their own voice.


Taking A Moment To Catch Up With APIs Before Moving To Next Big Thing

Maybe with the current funding priority shifts in the tech world, and some of the push back on the startup way of life, we could pause a little bit and just let everyone catch up with their API strategy, before moving on to the next big thing. I get emails, DMs, and the occasional phone call from journalists looking for wisdom on what is next for the API space, where my answer is always, "more of what we have been doing". Sadly, my quote(s) never see the light of day--I am ok with that.

Before companies look at doing bots, internet of Things, or begin playing with any of the new shiny objects on the landscape, we should just focus on doing APIs, doing them well, and realizing the fundamental benefits they bring to the table before getting distracted (yet again). I'm guessing that all of the resource available on your websites, and in your web applications, aren't all exposed as simple APIs in a coherent way. I'm guessing there are numerous sub-projects within your API ecosystem that you could be working on to improve integrations and performance. I'm sure there are numerous things you could be doing to support, and engage your developers better.

One of the downsides of the whole tech rat race, is we are always looking to stand out by doing the next cool thing. Truly getting to know the digital resources we are exposing, rolling up our sleeves to define them better using hypermedia (invest in hypermedia!), and reaching out to our consumers isn't always the cool thing to be doing that will get us written up in Techcrunch, but they are the things that will matter in the future. Maybe we could learn from the crazy pace of the last decade and take a break in 2017, and just work on getting our house in order before we focus on anything new? 


Keep Publishing Your API Definitions To Github So We Can Find Them

I was just getting started evolving upon my API definition discovery tools before I left this summer, and is something I am just picking up again, now that I am back at it. Historically there are three ways in which I find API definitions like OpenAPI Spec and API Blueprint for APIs:

  1. Behind API Document - When I come across API documentation deployed using Swagger UI or Apiary, I know that behind them there is an API definition -- sadly they are usually obfuscated rather than proudly shared with an icon + link.
  2. Website Harvesting - When I find a company who is doing things with APIs either because they have a public API portal, or have issued a press release, I add their URL to my crawler and I suck down their entire site and sift through the results for API definitions.
  3. Github - Using the Github API I am regularly searching the social coding platform using a variety of search terms which have been proven to produce results for OpenAPI Specs and API Blueprints, which are used in API related operations. Many are just for prototypes or from people playing around, but many often yield some pretty interesting results about API operations I couldn't find any other way. 

Out of all three of these approaches, I would say that Github holds the most promise for actually improving the world of API discovery, allowing me to find APIs in the wild. Ideally, APIs would employ hypermedia, or use solutions like JSON Home and APIs.json, but in the meantime, if y'all could use Github to host your API definitions, that would be awesome.

Remember, Github provides other benefits for your hosting your JSON, YAML, and Markdown API definitions like hosting your documentation, helping you manage the versions, and providing other ways to display using Jekyll and Liquid. It also helps developers and API analysts like me find your APIs, adding to your existing marketing and evangelism efforts.


GraphQL Seems Like We Do Not Want To Do The Hard Work Of API Design

We were talking about GraphQL in the API Evangelist Slack channel the other day, and the consensus seemed to be that GraphQL is a way to avoid the hard work involved with properly getting to know your API resources, and it is just opening up a technical window to the often messy backend of our database-driven worlds.

As an old database guy (1980s) I love me some SQL, but I am also a believer in what the API design, deployment, and the management life cycle can bring to the table. APIs are about taking often very technically defined resources, and making them accessible, and more intuitive (not always) to the people who are consuming and putting API resources to work. 

Technologists love their new shiny toys that reflect their tech ideology, and this is what GraphQL seems like to me on the surface. I get the reasons behind doing it, and why developers like it, but I think it's missing the important aspects of why we are doing APIs. Sure, you won't know every possible scenario a developer will want to query using your API, but this is why we have feedback loops associated with API operations.

It seems like you would attract 5 very technical API developers who would love it, but then exclude 5 non-technical users. Why not just make a simple and limited API, and have a conversation with all 10 users about what they need, and come up with an agile way to design, deploy, and manage new paths, and additional parameters to your existing paths. GraphQL seems like the numerous TEXTAREAS I've deployed behind the firewall to allow trusted users to write SQL to get at the database--which is just poking a hole, not very evolutionary at all.

GraphQL feels like the DBAs coming out from behind the firewall and rather than adjusting to the world, they are implementing their way of doing things on everyone--which is classic IT / backend behavior. No average user will ever use GraphQL interfaces, where they will copy / paste a URL and put it to work for them--if it is intuitive. Like the TEXTAREA solution, GraphQL feels like a quick fix to me and not one that looks to the future--I think my friend Mehdi Medjaoui (@medjawii) says it well with:

"When the wise man shows the moon, the idiot looks at the finger” s/moon/REST/ | s/finger/GraphQL/"

Us developers and IT class are always looking for the quick fix that fits with our ideology, and are resistance to change, and solutions that look outwards and to the future. I am not being critical of GraphQL just to be mean, I'm just asking if it is the forward-looking solution, the simplicity that we need to do this at scale. I feel like GraphQL is just another tech solution, that will have to be executed by tech people in the know, and not a solution that everyone will be able to implement. If you disagree with me, maybe you could help me learn more about the reason behind GraphQL, and understand how this benefits non-technical folks and end-users.


The API Lightbulb Went On For Me When Amazon EC2 Launched A Decade Ago

It is the 10th anniversary of the launch of Amazon EC2 this month, and I think it is a good time to revisit what this has meant to the API space. If you have heard any of my keynote talks where I visit the history of APIs and share my story of how I became the API Evangelist, you have heard this before, but is something I feel is worth repeating so that my new readers can play catch up.

In March of 2006 Amazon launched their new Amazon S3 service, and in August of 2006 they followed up with their launch of Amazon EC2. The Amazon S3 release interested me and I signed up right away, but the Amazon EC2 release is when the lightbulb went on for me when it came to the potential of web APIs--which eventually led to me launching API Evangelist in July of 2010. 

Prior to 2006 APIs were being used for what is considered very non-business activities, like publishing and sharing photos, videos, and of web links. S3 opened up storage in a new way, but the potential for deploying server infrastructure around the globe using web APIs was a serious game changer (I do not use this phrase often). With the release of EC2 web APIs weren't just for fun and games anymore, or just a "hobby toy" as my SAP IT directors in Germany liked to tell me--you could now do real world business things with them.

It would take a couple more years for me to realize this potential while I was running events for SAP and for Google, as the VP of Technology at WebEvents global, but by 2010 I had been touched by the holy API spirit. I then quit my nice six figure job, fired up a blog, and hit the road spreading the gospel of how web APIs could make digital, and increasingly physical resources more accessible to not just business, but also individuals, government agencies, and beyond.


Github Is Quickly Becoming My Most Important Discovery Source For API Space

I have monitored the Github accounts and organizations for individuals and companies doing interesting things with APIs for some time now. However, recently this channel is increasingly being the way that I discover truly interesting companies, individuals, specifications, tools, and even services. The most interesting people and companies doing things with APIs usually understand the importance of being transparent and aren't afraid of publishing their work on Github.

Developers are often very poor at blogging, tweeting, and sharing their work, but because Github allows me to follow their work, and provides additional ways to surface things using Github trending, I'm able to find things often before they'll show up on other common channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, etc--if they do at all. You can subscribe to the changes for a Github user, and organization using RSS, or you can do like I do, and use the API to dial in what you are following, and identify some pretty interesting relationships and patterns.

The interesting things I'm discovering aren't always directly code related either. With the increased usage of Github for publishing API portals, documentation, and other resources, I am increasingly finding valuable security guides, white papers, presentations, and much more. All of this makes Github an important place to discover what is going, while also helping ensure what you are working on around your API is being discovered. I'm thinking it is time for a refresh of my Github guide for API management, which I published a couple years back, and provide a fresh look at how the successful API providers are using Github.


Beyond Just API Discovery: The Technical, Business & Political Decisions Needed At Runtime

I was included in a conversation the other day on Twitter about runtime API discovery which reminded me of some thoughts I was processing before I walked away from work this summer, and before I dive back into the technical work, I wanted to refresh these thoughts and bring them to the surface. Blogging on API Evangelist, and other channels which I publish my work on is how I work through these ideas out in the open, something that saves me expensive time and research bandwidth while I'm down in the trenches doing the coding and API definition work.

The Wider Considerations Of What Is API Discovery
Like APIs themselves, the concept of API discovery means a lot of different things to different people. I find that broadly it means actually finding an API (ie. searching on Google or ProgrammableWeb), but once you talk to a more technical API crowd, it often means the programmatic discovery of APIs. Ideally, this is something that is done using hypermedia suupported discovery, but can also apply a standard like JSON Home, or APIs.json. There are also many folks who are thinking about programmatic API discovery using OpenAPI Spec, API Blueprint, and other common API specification formats.

Some Thoughts On API Discovery At Runtime Today
The conversation I was pulled into was between some of the leading minds in the area of not just defining what APIs are, but also how we truly can scale, and conduct API discovery, consumption, and evolution of our resources in a logical way. This discussion is pushing forward how our web, mobile, and other systems can discover, put to work, and roll with the changes that occur around critical API resources. How a human finds a single API for their use is one thing, but how a system and application finds a single API and puts it to work at runtime is a whole other conversation.

The Hard Work To Define Runtime Discovery of APIs
Separating out the human and programmatic discussions around what is involved with the runtime discovery of APIs is just the first line of challenges we face. The second layer of challenges is often about cutting through dogma and ideology around specific approaches to defining an API. The third layer I'd say is that this is just hard work of separating out the numerous differences between APIs, each often possessing their own nuances and differing approaches to authentication. As with every other aspect of APIs, the challenges are both technical, and human-centered, which slows expectations around the progress we make, but I trust the community will ultimately execute on this properly. 

The Even Harder Work To Define Runtime Discovery Of Many APIs
While I'm actively participating in the current discussions around runtime API discovery using both hypermedia, as well as other approaches, I can't help but keep an eye our for the future of how we are going to do the same thing across many APIs--this is what I do as the API Evangelist. We have a lot of work ahead of us to make each individual API is discoverable at runtime, but we also have a significant amount of work to harmonize this at web scale across ALL APIs--which is why so many hypermedia evangelists are so passionate about their work. 

The Technical Considerations Of API Discovery At Runtime
98% of the discussions around API discovery at runtime focus on the technical--as it should be at this phase. Hypermedia design constraints, leading API definition specifications like OpenAPI Spec and API Blueprint, and API discovery formats like JSON Home and APIs.json are providing us with vehicles for moving this technical discussion forward. Ideally, our APIs should reflect the web, and when you land on the "home page" of an API, you should be presented with a wealth of links reflecting what the possibilities are (does your API have a navigation). Secondarily, if hypermedia is not desired or feasible, JSON Home and APIs.json should be considered, providing a machine readable index of what APIs are available within any domain, as well as additional details on what is possible using OpenAPISpec and API Blueprint.

The Business Considerations of API Discovery At Runtime
As technologists, we often fail when it comes to considering the business implications of our solutions, ranging from making sure to make money to keep them operational, all the way to industry-wide influences we should be aware of. I see many discussions amongst API specialists fall short in this area, which is why I started API Evangelist in the first place, and which is why I'm pushing these thoughts forward, and sharing with the public, even before they are fully baked.  

At runtime, the technical considerations of where an API is, how to authenticate, and what parameters and other details need to be clear. However, when you elevate this process to operate across many APIs, important business criteria also become important--things like what plans are available, what do API resources cost, and are there volume options available. The example I like to use in this scenario is from the world of SMS, and making runtime business decisions across nine separate SMS APIs.

At runtime, I may have different business concerns with each execution, even after I know where the APIs exist. Some SMS blasts I may want to use the cheapest provider, while in other campaigns I may choose to use a higher priced, more trusted provider. These considerations made by a human in 2016 can be difficult, let alone having what we need to do in a programmatic way at runtime--something I've spent some cycles developing schemas and tools to help me sort through the mess. I have been able to establish patterns across some of the more mature API areas like SMS, email, search, and compute, but we are going to have to wait for other areas to evolve before this is even feasible.

There is a reason why I call my research in this area API plans and not simple API pricing. I feel this label reflects the future of business decisions we will have to make at runtime, which won't always be simply about pricing, and hopefully reflect our overall business plans--which are executed in real time at runtime in milliseconds. Sadly old ways of doing business by the enterprise continue to cast a shadow on this area, with companies hiding their pricing page behind firewalls, and not sharing the algorithm behind pricing decisions, let alone looking outward and following common industry patterns--beliefs around intellectual property and what is secret sauce will continue to hinder this all moving forward.

The Political Considerations of API Discovery At Runtime
Another area I have found myself paying attention to as the API Evangelist, beyond just the technology and business of APIs, is what I call the politics of APIs. Alongside the technical and business considerations, these often politically charged areas will have to be considered at runtime. Which API have the terms of service and privacy policies that reflect my companies strategy? Which API is the most reliable and stable? Can I get support if something fails? Is the long-term strategy of an API in alignment with our long-term strategy, or will they be gone within months due to funding and investment decisions (or lack of)? There are many political considerations that will have to be made at the programmatic level and included in runtime discovery and decision making around API integration(s).

Similar to the business considerations I have also invested some cycles into understanding the variability some providers are applying when it comes to the politics of APIs, like variability in terms of service and pricing, and how pricing, plan availability, availability, stability, and other ranking criteria can be made more machine readable and applied at runtime. As with the business concerns around API integration, there are many obstacles present when we are trying to make sense of the political impact at runtime. As more API providers emerge which are not resistant to sharing their API plans, I am able to document the variables at play in these algorithms, and share with the wider industry, but alas, many companies are holding these elements too close to their chest for the conversation to move forward in a healthy manner.

It is easy to think about the political runtime decisions that need to be made around APIs as purely being about terms of service, but there are much more grander considerations emerging, like which country and region we deploy into, and regulatory considerations that will have to be followed when putting API resources to work, or possibly injected at runtime like we are seeing within the drone space. Like terms of service are guiding almost everything we do online today, the politics of APIs will govern the runtime decisions that are made in the future. 

Beyond Discovery And Considering The Technical, Business And Political Decisions Needed At Runtime
This is just a glimpse at the long road we have ahead of us when it comes to truly reaching the API economy we all like to talk about in the sector. Unfortunately, there are also many obstacles in the way of us getting to this possible future. We have to increase our investment in hypermedia and web-centric API solutions, and not just vendor-driven API solutions if we are going to move down this road. We have to be more transparent about our API plans, pricing, and the variables that go into the human and algorithmic business decisions that are driving our API platforms. We also have to start having honest discussions about the terms of service, privacy policies, service level agreements, and regulation that are increasingly defining the API space. 

I am optimistic that we can move forward on all of this, but current beliefs around what is intellectual property, something that is fueled by venture capital, and further set back by legal struggles like the Oracle v Google API copyright case are seriously hurting us. The definition of your API is not IP or secret sauce. Your pricing and plan variables are not your secret sauce, and should not be hidden behind the firewall in the Internet age--regardless of your enterprise sales belief. The only way that we are going to continue meaningful automation of the growing number of resources being made available via APIs using Internet technology, is to share vital metadata out in the open, so we can make sure we are all making proper, consistent decisions at runtime--not just technically, but also the right business and political decisions that will make the API economy go round.


APIs Are Not Just Meant For Killer Apps, They Can Also Be A Lifeline For Users

In the Silicon Valley rat race users often become collateral damage amidst the entrepreneurial quest to get rich building the next killer startup. I've heard many startups like Snapchat and Pinterest state the reason they don't want to do APIs, is they don't want developers building unwanted applications on their services, something that stems from a mix of not understanding modern approaches to API management, and not really thinking about their end-users needs (both these companies now have APIs but for different reasons).

I am sure that these platforms are often more concerned with locking in their userbase, then allowing them to be able to migrate their data, content, and other media off the platform for their own interests and protection. As companies race forward towards their exits, or in many cases their implosions, users often lose everything that they have published on a platform, many times even if they've been paying for the service.

An API is not always meant just for developers to build the next killer website and mobile applications integration on top of an API that benefits themselves, and the platform. Sometimes these applications are focused on providing data portability, syncing, and important backup solutions for users--allowing them to minimize the damage in their personal and professional worlds when things go wrong with startups. While data portability and data dumps can alleviate some of this, often times what they produce is unusable, and an API often allows for more usable real world possibilities.

As an API provider, you do not have to approve every developer and application that requests access. If an application is in direct competition or does not benefit your platform, and its users--you can say no. I encourage ALL platforms to have a public presence for their APIs (you know you have them) and incentivize developers to build data portability, syncing, and backup solutions for users. APIs are not just for encouraging developers to build the next killer startup, sometimes they will just help protect your users from when things go wrong with your startup vision--make sure and think beyond just your desires and remember that there are people who depend on your service.


Add A Prominent Icon Link To Your API Definition On Your Documentation Page

In an effort to help folks understand the many layers of just exactly what is an API and how people are using them, I'm going to emphasize (again) the importance of sharing your API definition publicly. I'm not going to talk about why you should have an API definition for your API, if you need a reason, go look at the growing number of ways that API definitions are driving a modern API life cycle--this post is about making sure you are sharing it properly once you have one crafted.

I'm increasingly stumbling across OpenAPI Spec-driven Swagger UI documentation for APIs which I then have to fire up my Chrome developer tools to reverse engineer the path of the OpenAPI Spec--this is dumb. If you have an API definition available for your API, make sure it is available in a prominent location within your API portal, preferably using an easy-to-find icon and supporting link.

Your API definition isn't just driving your API documentation. They are being used for API discovery search engines like APIs.io, to get up and running in API clients like Postman, and to help me monitor, test, and troubleshoot my API integrations using Runscope. Please stop hiding them! I know many of you think this is some secret sauce, but it isn't. You should be proudly sharing your definitions, and making them available to your consumers with one click, so they can more quickly integrate, as well as successfully manage their ongoing integration.


Using Anchors In Your FAQ And Other API Support Pages

I was going through some of the Twitter feeds of the APIs that I track on and noticed Spotify's team providing support to some of their API users with quick links / anchors to the answers in their API user guide available at developer.spotify.com. This might sound trivial, but having an arsenal of these links, so you can tweet out like Spotify does can be a real time saver.

This is pretty easy to do with a well-planned API portal and developer resources but is something you can rapidly add / change to using a frequently asked questions page for your API. The trick is to make sure you have anchors to the specific areas you are looking to reference when providing support for your community.

Another benefit of doing this beyond just developer support is in the name of marketing and evangelism. I'm often looking for specific concepts and topics to link to in my stories, and if an API doesn't have a dedicated page or an anchor for it, I won't link it--I do not want my readers to have to dig for anything. The trick here is you need to think like your consumers, and not just wear your provider's hat all the time.

When crafting your API portal, and supporting resources make sure you provide anchors for the most requested resources and other information related to API operations, and keep the links handy so you can use across all your support and marketing channels.


Is Your Sales Deal Size Just Too Big To Be Reading API Evangelist?

I am blessed to have people in the space who have supported what I do for the last six years. Companies like 3Scale, Restlet, WSO2, Cloud Elements, and others have consistently helped me make ends meet. Numerous individuals stepped up in May to help me make it through the summer--expecting nothing in return, except that I continue being the API Evangelist.

I do API Evangelist because I enjoy staying in tune with the fast-growing landscape of industries being touched by APIs. I believe in what is possible when individuals, companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies embark on their API journey (aka digital transformation). I do not operate as the API Evangelist to sell you a product, service, or to get rich. Don't get me wrong, I do ok, but I definitely am not getting rich--all I got is the domain, Twitter account, and my stories.

The prioritization of sales and profits over what is really important in the space always blows my mind, but rarely ever surprises me. I find myself regularly worrying about the companies and individuals who focus on sales over actual transformation, but I have to admit my friend Holger Reinhardt's post about the motivations behind their Wicked (cool) open source API management made me chuckle. Their API management work was in response to a sales lead that "felt that our focus on ‘just enough API management’ was too narrow and not addressing the larger needs (and bigger deal) of the ‘Digital Transformation’ of the Haufe Group." << I LOVE IT!!!

I've been through hundreds of enterprise sales pitches, sitting on both sides of the table, and experiencing this bullshit song and dance over and over was one of the catalysts for leaving working with SAP in 2010 and starting API Evangelist. I just wanted to tell honest, real stories about the impact technology could make--not scam someone into signing a two or three-year contract, or be duped by a vendor into doing the same. Granted, not all sales people are scammers, but if you are in the business, you know what I'm talking about.

All I can say is I am very glad I do not have to live in a sales deal-driven world and I refuse to go back. To brag a little, I know that a significant portion of my readers are enterprise. People who work at IBM, SAP, Oracle, SalesForce, Microsoft, Capital One, and on, and on read my blog, and I want you all to know: That NONE of your deal sizes are too big, or too small to be reading my blog--I give a shit about all of you. However, maybe you could let me know what your expected budget might be? ;-)


I Am Digging Stripes New Interactive API Documentation Walkthrough

I am digging Stripes new documentation release, and specifically their interactive API documentation walkthrough. The new "try now" section of their documentation provides an evolve look at what is possible when it comes to providing your API consumers the documentation they need to get up and running.

The new documentation provides not just a code example of processing a credit card charge, they walk you through accepting a credit card, creating a new customer, charge the card, establish a recurring plan, and establishing a recurring customer subscription.

The walkthrough is simple, informative, and helpful. It helps you understand the concepts at play when integrating with the Stripe API, in a language agnostic way. I was super impressed with the ability to copy, paste, and run the curl commands at the command line, and when I came back to the browser--it had moved to the next step in the walkthrough. 

The new Stripe API documentation walkthrough is the most sophisticated movement forward in API documentation I've seen since Swagger UI. It isn't just documentation, in an interactive way--it walks you through each step, bordering on what I'd consider API curriculum. All without needing an actual live token--I wasn't even logged in. Additionally, Stripe made sure they Tweeted out the changes and included a slick GIF to demonstrate the new interactive capabilities of their documentation.


Going The Distance To Help API Consumers Find Their API Keys And Tokens

I am always amazed at how difficult it can be to obtain the API keys, or fire up an initial set of oAuth tokens when kicking the tires on a new API. I would also say that I am also regularly impressed the distance API providers will go to help API consumers obtain the keys they need to make a successful API call.

One example of this is present in the new Stripe API documentation. Their new code samples give you a slick little alert every time you see a demo key and mouse over. The alert gives you a quick link to log in and obtain the keys you need to make an actual call.

While I like this approach, I also  like the way Twitter does this and gives me a dropdown listing all of my applications, allowing me to choose from any of my current apps I have registered--maybe it is something that could be merged?

Both are great examples of API providers going the extra distance to make sure you understand how to authenticate with an API, and get your API keys and OAuth tokens. If you know of other good examples of how API providers are working to make sure authentication is as frictionless as possible, making API keys and oAuth tokens more accessible directly within API docs--let me know.

This is an area I think interactive documentation has made significantly easier, but things have seemed to stagnate in this area. It is definitely an area I'd like to see move forward, eventually providing cross-API provider solutions that developers can put to use.


Watching Out For Your API Keys & Tokens On Open Internet

I was just learning about Auth0's new password breach detection service, adding to the numerous reasons why you'd use their authentication service, instead of going at it on your own. It's an important concept I wanted to write about so that it was added to my research, and present in my thinking around API authentication and security going forward.

Keeping an eye out for important identity and authentication related information used as part of my API consumption is a lot of work--it is something that I'd love to see more platforms assist me with. I've written about AWS communicating with me around my API keys, and I could see an API key and token management solution be built on top of their AWS Key Management Service. I've also received emails from Github about my OAuth token that show up in a public repo (happened once ;-( ).

Many application developers do not have the discipline to always manage API keys & tokens in a safe and secure way (guilty). It seems like something that could become default for API providers--if you issue keys and tokens, then maybe you should be helping consumers keep an eye out for them on the open Internet << Which smells like an opportunity for some API-focused security startup. 

Have you seen any other API providers provide key and token monitoring services? Is there anything that you do as an API consumer to keep an eye out for your own keys and tokens? Search for them on Github via the API? Manually search on Google? I am curious to learn more about what people are doing to manage their API keys and tokens.


Providing A Dedicated Mobile SDK Page For Your API

Every API provider will have slightly different needs, but there are definitely some common patterns which providers should be considering as they are kicking off their API presence, or looking to expand an existing platform. While there are some dissenting opinions on this subject, many API providers provide a range of specific language, mobile, and platform SDKs for their developers to put to use when integrating with their platforms. 

A common approach I see from API providers when it comes to managing their SDKs is to break out their mobile SDKs into their own section, which the communications API platform Bandwidth has a good example of. Bandwidth provides iOS and Android SDKs and provides a mobile SDK quick start guide, to help developers get up and going. This approach provides their mobile developers a dedicated page to get at available SDKs, as well as other mobile-focused resources that will make integration as frictionless as possible.

Unless your anti-SDK, you should at least have a dedicated page for all your available SDK. I would also consider putting all of them on Github, where you will gain the network effect brought by managing your SDKs on the social coding platform. Then when it makes sense, also consider breaking out a dedicated mobile SDK page like Bandwidth--I will also work on a roundup of other providers who have similar pages, to help understand a wide variety of approaches when it comes to mobile SDK management.


More Considerations When Providing An Anonymous App For Your API Service

I wrote a post the other day about Postman.io having a limited, anonymous version of their API modeling tool. I stumbled across it while I was trying to upgrade my Stoplight.io account. Shortly after I tweeted out the blog post, John Sheehan (@johnsheehan) from Runscope chimed in with some wisdom on the subject.

Definitely, something to consider. In the current online environment, it might become quite a pain in the ass to maintain an anonymous app, as John points out. This is one reason I work to publish my API tooling as standalone JavaScript applications, which run 100% on Github. First off they run on Github infrastructure, and use Github's bandwidth. Second, this type of app is forkable, and people can choose to run them wherever they desire--on Github, or any other site they wish.

I'll keep an eye out for other anonymous apps built on top of API service providers, or individual APIs--maybe there are other successful models out there, or maybe there is also some other cautionary tales we should hear.


Managing The Apps Across All My API Accounts

I am going through all of my online accounts changing passwords, and one of the things I do along the way is check which applications have access to my digital self. Increasingly my accounts have two dimensions of applications: 1) apps I have created to allow me to make API calls for my system(s) 2) apps I have given access to any account using OAuth. This is a process that can take quite a bit of time, something that is only going to grow in coming years. 

The quickest example of this in the wild is Twitter. I have authorized 3rd party applications to access my account, and I have also developed my own applications, which have various types of access to my profile--this is how I automate my Tweets, profiling of the space, etc. I'm regularly deleting apps from both of these dimensions, which I tend to add as I test new services, and build prototypes. 

I really wish the platforms I depend on would allow me to manage my internal and 3rd party applications via an API. If I could aggregate applications across all the accounts I depend on, manage the details of these applications (including keys & tokens), and add and remove them as I need--that would be awesome! If nothing else, maybe this will put the bug in your ear to consider this for your own world, and you can help put the pressure on existing API providers to open up oAuth and app management APIs for us to help automate our operations.


Adding An Atom Feed For The API Evangelist Blog

The API Evangelist platform is far from perfect, there are always portions of it that just aren't finished yet (always work in progress). I am always thankful that people put up with my API Evangelist workbench, always changing and evolving. Even with this unfinished status, there are some unfinished or broken elements that are just unacceptable--one of these is the lack of an Atom feed for my blog.

Thankfully I have other folks in the space who are kind enough to remind me of what's broken when it comes to specifications, and ultimately what is broken on my website.

Thanks Erik for gently pushing back. In response I went ahead and added an Atom feed for the API Evangelist blog, to add to the existing RSS feed. I made sure the Atom feed validated and added a link relation to the header of the blog. I am going to do the same to all my individual research areas with the next push of their website template.

Syndication of my writing is important, so my blog is now available via RSS, Atom, and JSON. Thanks Erik for helping make sure the web is not entirely broken. ;-)


You Can Make Money While Also Doing Important Work For The API Space

I see a lot of companies doing things with APIs, and I often find myself struggling to find companies who are doing important things that benefit the community, have a coherent business model, and providing clear value via their services. In the drive to obtain VC funding, or after several rounds of funding, many companies seem to forget who they are, slowly stop doing anything important (ie. research, open source, etc.) with their platform, and seem to just focus on just making money. 

One phrase I hear a lot from folks in the space is, "it's just business", and that I should stop expecting altruistic behavior around APIs, and within the business sectors which they are impacting--APIs are about making money, and building businesses hippie! Often times I begin to fall for the gaslighting I experience from some in the API space, then I engage with services like CloudFlare.

I use CloudFlare for all my DNS, but I also stay in tune with their operations because of what they do to lead the DNS space, and because of their DNS API. I was going to craft this post after reading their blog post on the Cuban CDN, then I read their post on an evenly distributed future, and I'm renewed with hope that the web just might be ok--things might not be as dark as they feel sometimes.

I follow what CloudFlare is doing because their work represents the frontline of the API sector--DNS. This makes it not just about DNS, it also becomes about security, and potentially one of the most frightening layers of security--the distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). CloudFlare clearly get DNS, and care so much that they have become super passionate about understanding the web as it exists (as messy as it is), and pushing the conversation forward when it comes to DNS, performance, and security. 

CloudFlare makes DNS accessible for me, and for other less-technical professionals like my partner in crime Audrey Watters (@audreywatters), who also uses CloudFlare to manage her DNS, with no assistance from me. I operated my own DNS servers from 1998 until 2013, and it is something that I will never do again, as long as CloudFlare exists. CloudFlare knows their stuff and they help me keep the frontline of my domains healthy and secure.

There are a number of companies I look up to in the space, and CloudFlare is one of them. For me, they prove that you can build a real business, do important work that moves the web forward, be passionate about what you do, while also being transparent along the way. Knowing this is possible keeps me going forward with my own research, and optimistic that this experiment we call the web might actually survive.


If You Use API Definitions There Is No Excuse For Not Having An API Sandbox

I have long been a proponent of using API definitions, not just because you can deploy interactive API documentation, but because they open up almost every other stop along the API life cycle. Meaning, if you have an OpenAPI Spec definition for your API you can also generate SDKs using APIMATIC, and API monitors using Runscope. 

One of the examples I reference often is the API Sandbox solution appropriately named Sandbox. One of the reasons I use Sandbox in this way is that API mocking using API definitions is a pretty easy concept for developers to wrap their heads around, but also because their home page is pretty clear in articulating the opportunities opened up for your API when you have machine-readable definitions available.

Their opening text says it well, helping you understand that because you have API definitions you can "accelerate application development", and provide "quick and easy mock RESTful API and SOAP webservices". The presence of common API definition icons including API Blueprint, OpenAPI Spec, RAML, and WSDL then provide a visual re-enforcement for the concept.

Sandbox opens up mocking and sandbox capabilities, which I lump together under one umbrella which I call API virtualization. You can easily create, manage, and destroy sandboxes for your APIs using their API, and your API definitions. I envision API providers following Cisco's lead and having any number of different types of sandboxes running for developers to put to work, using server virtualization (virtualization on virtualization).

With the evolution of API definition-driven solutions like Sandbox for providing virtualized instances of your APIs, there really isn't any excuse for not having a sandbox for your API. For device focused APIs, a sandbox is essential, but even for web and mobile-focused APIs you should be providing places for your API consumers to play, and not requiring them to code against production environments by default.


CRX Extractor Wins For The Best Customer Quote Ever

Having quotes from your customers on your company website is a no-brainer. Finding the best examples of brands and companies putting your valuable service, or tool to work demonstrates it has value, and that people are using it.

While playing around with a new chrome add-on reverse engineering tool called CRX Extractor, I noticed the quote at the bottom of their page:

They win in my book for having a funny, but also pretty realistic endorsement for why you should be using a product. I'm using the tool to better understand how browser add-ons are putting APIs to work and evolve my own creations as well, but I can see reverse engineering them to make sure they are secure is a pretty important aspect of operating your company securely online.

When it comes to marketing your API, make sure you have quotes from smart people, as well as brands that people know, makes sense, but I would also add that making them funny, and allowing ourselves to laugh along the way can make a significant impact with the right people as well


An OpenAPI Spec For A Building Permits API

One of the reasons why crafting API definitions like OpenAPI Spec for our APIs, and openly sharing them on the web, is so that the pattern will get used, and reused by other API providers. That might sound scary to some companies, but really that is what you want--your API design used across an industry. Your API definition is not your IP, it is the magic behind your API, and the way you approach all the supporting elements around your API operations.

There are numerous industries where I'd like to see a common API definition emerge, and get reused, and one of the more obvious ones is in the area of building permits. Open Permit has shared their API definition, by publishing the OpenAPI Spec to drive their Swagger UI documentation. This is a great example of an API definition that should be emulated across the industry because the money to be made is not around the API design, but the portion of our economy that the API will fuel when it is in operation.

Can you imagine if all cities, contractors, and vendors who service the construction industry could put APIs to use, and even better, put common patterns to use? If you have ever tried to build something residential or commercial and had to pull a permit, you understand. This is one industry where APIs need to be unleashed, and we need to make sure we share all possible API definitions so that they can get used, and we aren't ever re-inventing the wheel.


A Wicked (Good) Open Source API Deployment And Management Stack

I was introduced to a new open source, Dockerized API operations solution called Wicked, that was developed by the integrated cloud and desktop solutions provider, the Haufe Group. There are a number of open source API management solutions out there, and an even greater number of API frameworks that can help you deploy your APIs, but Wicked is the first to span several areas of the API life cycle including DNSdeployment, containers, authentication, management, and documentation,

Built On Existing Open Source API Gateway
The Haufe Group built the core of Wicked on top of an existing open source API management solution, further augmenting, evolving, and improving on an existing solution:

Why reinvent the wheel? It makes sense to build on existing solutions for API management, developing on top of what is already being used by API architects and developers.

Simple Developer Onboarding
Wicked employs the latest approaches to allowing developers to onboard with an API, sticking to what is already working for API providers, and what developers expect: 

  • Authenticate with email and password - Let your users sign up with their email address and a password. Email addresses will be automatically validated by sending out verification emails.
  • Authentication with GitHub or Google - You may also configure signup and login using OAuth2 with GitHub and/or Google. These identities will be treated as 'verified' automatically.

I like that they let you use Github or Google on top of the standard email and password setup. I've been aggregating all my personal API developer accounts under my single @kinlane Github account, and when I set up a business account I authenticate using my @apievangelist Github account--more API providers should offer this, to help us all organize our accounts.

Using Modern API Authentication
There are a handful of proven approaches out there for allowing developers to authenticate against an API, and Wicked allows for two of the most common approaches:

  • API Key or OAuth 2 - Out of the box, wicked enables fast securing of your API using API Key authentication or OAuth 2 Client Credentials Flow.

Allowing for either API key or OAuth will cover 75% of the use cases companies are looking for when securing their digital resources. Most public resources will just need an API key which acts as the identifier, but for personally identifiable information, OAuth is essential.

Enabling API Service Composition
Every successful API provider knows that you don't provide the same access for all developers, and service composition is an essential way to approach this--Wicked provides the essentials in this area: 

  • Implement Rate Limiting - Using Mashape Kong's rich functionality, implement rate limiting for your APIs, wherever needed.
  • Subscription Plans - API definitions can be associated with subscription plans, which can carry additional settings, e.g. different rate limits for different users.
  • Group based rights to APIs - Define custom user groups and assign those groups to users in order to limit access to specific APIs to specific groups. The Admin group can also be assigned.
  • Group based rights to custom content - The content section also supports group-based access, e.g. to How-tos or tutorials.
  • Subscription Approval Workflow - API Plans can be configured to require an approval of subscription; you will be sent an email to a predefined email address to the approval request.

While I am not a big fan of API approval workflows, as I prefer resources to be self-service, I was intrigued by the email approval feature, allowing for a (hopefully) frictionless onboarding flow that can add an additional layer of security for our most valuable of API resources.

Providing The Necessary Application Mangement
APIs are all about developing applications, and Wicked allows for the identification of apps, and the incorporation of these apps into the service composition workflow: 

  • Application Concept - In order to subscribe to an API, a user needs to create an application (which is the client of the API); APIs are coupled with applications, not users.
  • Application Owner Roles - Applications can be shared among users, using different roles on the application: Admin/Owner, Collaborator, and Reader.

Users may have one or many apps which integrate with one or many APIs. This many to many relationships provide a robust way to manage API consumers, and potentially the multiple applications which they will develop.

Interactive API Documentation
No API in 2016 is complete unless it has interactive documentation, and Wicked sticks with what works in this area and provides documentation for APIs using Swagger UI and OpenAPI Spec

  • Swagger UI Integration - In order to view the APIs in more detail, wicked has integrated Swagger UI, with configurable direct access to the backend services.

Using open API definitions like OpenAPI Spec, as well as providing up-to-date interactive API documentation is pretty much much the new baseline for APIs these days, and Wicked keeps up.

Scalable Deployment
Next, as if that wasn't enough, you get te scalable deployment of APIs using Docker. Wicked weaves together the DNS, deployment, and management of your APIs, and allows for modular deploy with Docker, and scaling with Docker Compose:

  • Docker Deployment - The entire APIm solution is deployed using docker; everything runs in docker, enabling deployments to whatever infrastructure supports it.
  • Scaling With Docker Compose - By using docker-compose, the deployment of your API Management solution can be easily scaled to use multiple instances of Kong, behind a powerful HAproxy.

This type of API deployment is how all APIs will be deployed in the future. We have a lot of work ahead of us when it comes to decoupling our legacy infrastructure, but Wicked gives us the tools we need to get this done--providing a fuller open source stack which we can more confidently bake into our infrastructure.

There are two things that stand out for me about Wicked. 1) It spans deployment and management in a scalable way 2) It is built using the best of breed open source tooling, specifications, and standards available out there right now--Kong, HAproxy, OpenAPI Spec, Swagger UI, and Docker.

I'm just getting going with Wicked. It makes me happy to see API operations solutions like this come together. I'm just getting going reviewing the stack, and I am really liking the motivations behind why they did it, and how they are doing it--more to come.


Who Is Going To Do The DevOps Aggregation API Platform?

There are two distinct types of APIs I keep an eye on. One is what I call my life cycle APIs, which are the APIs of the service providers who are selling services and tools to API providers and developers. The second category is what I call my stack network, and these are the individual API providers, who offer a wide range of API resources--you can find both of these types on the home page of API Evangelist

The 50+ life cycle APIs I track on can be used by companies to manage almost every stop along a modern API life cycle. In theory, all of these service providers have APIs. In reality, they do, but they do not practice what they preach and often do not make their APIs easily discoverable. I have said it a thousand times before--if you sell online services to API providers, you should have an API. Period.

At some point in the future, I will have profiled all of the companies included in my API life cycle research, like I did for API monitoring, and be able to provide a comprehensive API stack across all the providers for all stops along the life cycle. Ideally, each provider would have their own OpenAPI spec, but I'm still getting many of them to make their APIs public, convincing them of the importance of also having an API definition for their API will come next. Then I'll continue pushing on them to allow for the import / export of API definitions, so their customers can more easily get up and running with their services--if you need an example of this in the wild, take a look at Sandbox, or over at API Metrics.

I'd love to see someone take this idea and run with it beyond what I'm able to do as a one-man act. There are numerous API aggregation solutions already out there for financial, healthcare, images, documents, and more. What about an aggregated API across providers in the name of DevOps or microservices orchestration? An aggregated solution would allow you to automate defining of your APIs in multiple formats with API Transformer, deploy them using Docker or Heroku APIs, manage with 3Scale APIs, deploy sandboxes with Sandbox, monitor with Runscope, and almost every other stop along the life cycle. 

I'm sure I've written this one up before, but I couldn't find it, so I wanted to get a fresh post up on the subject. With all the agile, orchestration, DevOps, microservices, continuous integration goingz on, having a coherent, cross-vendor API stack, and a suite of the usual analytics, billing, and other vital middleware services just makes sense. Let me know when you get up and running, and I'll send over my bank account information for the royalty payments. ;-)


The Expanding API Layers That Overlap Our Physical And Virtual Worlds

I wrote the other day about the interesting opportunity opening up within the satellite imagery API layer, and earlier about the similar opportunity that is being expanded within the fast growing dimension of our world being opened up with drones. Layers within maps are nothing new, and is something that Google has pushed forward early on in the history of APIs with Google Maps, but I feel is further being expanding on as APIs open new dimensions like satellites and drones. Then being further expanded on by adding API access to each layer for augmenting, and injecting other valuable API resources into these newly created API dimensions.

Let's see if I can successful describe the multiple API dimensions being opened up here. APIs are providing access to maps of our physical world, whether it is on the ground, from the air with drones, or from space with satellites, and these API-driven maps have layers, which are also made available via APIs, allowing other API driven resources like weather, forest fires, restricted spaces, and temporary or permanent elements are being injected. Once injected, these API-driven mapping resources with API injected resources are also being made available via APIs, providing entirely new, and specialized resources--that is a lot of APIs!

I am not even touching on the physical devices who put these maps to work also possessing APIs, like the drones, GPS units, cars, etc. This is just the expanding layer that is opening up via the multitude of API driven mapping resources and is further expanded when you look at the video layer which drones, mobile phones, automobiles, security cameras, and other Internet-connected devices are opening up. Drones, automobiles, and others will share layers with the mapping resources, but other video resources also will possess their own layers for augmenting the experience on the web, mobile, and television.

The part of this that is really striking to me isn't just the overlapping layers between mapping, video, and other channels, it is the overlap between our physical and virtual worlds. Think what Pokemon Go has done for gaming, but now consider drones, consumer automobiles, as well as commercial fleets. It can be very difficult to wrap your mind around the different dimensions of opportunities opening up, but it doesn't take much imagination to understand that there is a growing opportunity for APIs to thrive in this expanding universe.


Sharing Your API Platform Road Map And Telling The Story Like Readme.io

Sharing your platform's road map with the public, and your community is an often overlooked aspect of API operations but is one that can go a long way to communicate your plans for the future with your community. This is why I carved the concept out into its own research area, to help me better understand how the successful API providers, as well as API service providers are publishing, sharing, and communicating around their road map.

One example of this recently is out of the API documentation service provider Readme.io, who didn't just publish a nice, simple, and clean road map for their platform, they also told the story of the process. This is a great way to announce that you have a road map for the platform but is also something you should repeat as often as possible, telling the story of what you just added to the road map and as much detail on why.

Sharing your road map, and the story behind goes a long way in lowering the anxiety around what the future holds for your API consumers, something that lets them know that you care about them enough to share what you have planned. In my opinion, a road map for an API platform shows that you have empathy for your community, and is something I like to encourage and support, by showcasing the process of your road map storytelling here on my blog when I can.