The Building Blocks of a Successful API
The current API movement has been built on existing web technologies, using HTTP to transmit valuable business resources, via meaningful, descriptive URL endpoints. When anyone talks about APIs or Application Programming Interfaces, the conversation is immediately dominated by technical jargon, arguing about the finer points of HTTP or REST--while in reality there are many more building blocks that go into a successful API.
After reviewing the 6000+ APIs available in the ProgrammableWeb API directory, patterns begin to emerge of the building blocks that are used by the successful APIs. I wanted to write a white paper that walks through the most common of these building blocks, used by 1500 of the most successful APIs.
Not all these building blocks are applicable to every API, but each one should be considered when planning a new API or deploying the next version of an existing API. The goal of this whitepaper is to not to provide the details of implementing each of these building blocks, but to highlight the full spectrum of building blocks used by the successful APIs on the Internet today.
Developers have grown familiar with consistency across many of these public APIs. Prior to me writing this paper, there is no consistent framework for the business building blocks of an API. The patterns found in many of the successful API areas is an organic process that has happened from waves of API owners emulating the successful APIs prior to them. This cycle reflects the organic nature of the web API movement which started in the early 2000’s and has picked up significant momentum by 2010.
The Building Blocks of a Successful API is not meant to define a standard for API areas, but to shed light on what approaches are working in the space, while providing several appendixes to assist with planning, designing and deploying successful APIs.
The underlying message of this paper is that the technical building blocks are only the beginning of a successful API, after that proper business and legal building blocks are critical to a successful API.
Most of the information in The Building Blocks of a Successful API can be found for free on this site, but you have to look around for it. The white paper is meant to provide it in a single PDF, allowing you to easily digest without clicking around, while also supporting my research. I do not put ads on API Evangelist or API Voice, and depend on research and consulting dollars to do what I do. This white paper is the first in a series I hope will allow me to monetize some of my research, but it is important to me to also make it available for those who cannot afford.
Thanks - Kin Lane, API Evangelist
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