An Open Source Code Catalog for your API

I'm working through the wave of API innovation coming out of our Federal Government recently. During normal days at API Evangelist, I'm pulling private sector API usage examples and crafting them into stories to help the Federal Government execute on their API own strategies. Today, I'd like to showcase something the Federal Government is doing, in hopes that more companies in the private API sector will emulate as part of their API strategies.

The GSA's Digital Services Innovation Center has launched the Mobile Code Catalog, an open source catalog of web and native applications that government agencies can use to jump-start their projects. Think application showcase, but all the applications are open source and allow for your API developers to download, fork and re-use code.

The idea of a code catalog is pretty interesting, and I see it as an evolution of several API building blocks I talk about--code samples, SDKs, starter kits and application showcase all rolled into one. Imagine if your API consumers can come into your developer area and not just find code samples, they can find complete applications that they can download, reverse-engineer and put to use. Talk about going from zero to API integration in as short of time as possible.

I know that many API owners compete with their ecosystems, by deploying their own version of their mobile, web or desktop apps, but for the others a code catalog is an excellent way to facilitate integrations with your platform.

Another cool thing about the Digital Services Innovation Center Mobile Code Catalog, is that the catalog itself is open source and hosted on Github. This is a whole other aspect of the innovation around a code catalog, that the catalog itself can be downloaded, forked and published anywhere on a public website or private portal.

I envision hundreds of code catalogs available in the near future, across many business, government and NGO sectors. While there is money in building proprietary apps on top of APIs, I think there is even more money to be made when you put meaningful, high quality apps in the hands of end-users.