Qualifying for the API Stack

I’m going through hundreds of APIs and curating a list of APIs, for what I’m calling the API Stack.  The API Stack consists of APIs that provide clear value for developers and have demonstrated real investment in their API, and are in it for long haul.

There are quite a few things I consider when looking at an API, here are a few:

  • Value - The API offers clear value to developers, without needing an explanation.
  • Web API - They don’t have to be 100% REST, but web APIs make developers lives easier.
  • Active Blog w/ RSS - A blog is a quick way to see what is behind the curtain of an API. If they care enough to have a blog, and communicate with developers, and keep it active it demonstrates they care. With an RSS feed I can programmatically understand whether they are active or not.
  • Active Forum w/ RSS - A forum gives developers a voice and also shows an API owner cares what developers thinks, and is willing to support a large community. An active forum is a positive sign of an API, and the RSS feed also gives me a programmatic way to assess.
  • Twitter - An active Twitter presence is a pretty key metric in understanding the value of an API. If the company has the resources to actively engage developers via Twitter, they care. And again I can programmatically monitor and see if someone exists behind the API.

There are other metrics I use, but these are proving to be the most positive characteristics of an API that developers can depend on. Many APIs I come across don’t even meet these basic requirements. What triggered this post, was I had just looked at about 10 APIs that did not meet these basic requirements, and then I came across one that clearly met all of these, and more--GeoIQ.

GeoIQ has a mapping API that provides clear value to developers, and its obvious they are investing the necessary resources, so the API is successful. So I’m adding GeoIQ to my API stack under the category of “local”.

If you feel your API is a good fit for the API stack, make sure and ping me.