Giving Thanks To The Open Source Software Gods

by Kin Lane, API Evangelist Twitter LinkedIn Github Email

I spend a lot of time thinking about the politics of APIs, which in my opinion is the soul of the API economy. There are numerous things that go into the politics of an API, including your terms of service (TOS), privacy policy all the way to sharing your security strategy and communicating with your developers.

The politics of APIs is all about the balance you take in your API operations, and how open, public, secure, transparent, accessible, and real you are in your overall approach. The politics of an API can reveal a lot about the company behind the resource, and will play a big role in how successful an API will ultimately be with the developer community.

Every once in a while I stumble across a new building block being used by a company, that I think is worthy of being added to my master list. This weekend I found a new one from the chat & inbox API Flowdock—the “thanks" page. Usually in the footer of an API developer site you will find links to an APIs terms of use, privacy policy, security and the other political building blocks of an API. Flowdock has all of this, but also has a new one—simply, thanks.

On their “thanks” page, Flowdock highlights “the tools we use to create the best real-time teamwork environment possible”, and says:

Flowdock wouldn't be possible without some fine open-source software projects. These are some of the components we rely on, and we'd like to extend our thanks to all the authors

Flowdock is right, we all depend on open-source software to make our increasingly API driven world go around. Whether it's the language(s) we program in, server OS, database platform, or the code libraries we use for API integration, open source software is an essential element of the API economy.

I think we all recognize this, and some of us talk about it publicly, and even fewer actively support the open source projects they depend on, but I don’t think we showcase and pay tribute to this in a formal way. I like Flowdock’s style, and think their approach to hanging a “thanks: page right along with their terms of use, privacy policy and security overview, pays the proper respect to which building blocks are essential in building API driven platforms.