I recently finished looking through all of the email APIs available in the space, narrowing it down to just a handful of companies who I felt were worthy of showcasing as part of my email API research. Ultimately I felt seven were worthy of discussion, and after I laid them side by side all of them were very similar in the technology, business, and politics of their APIs—all except one, Context.io.
Context.io isn’t about sending or receiving emails via APIs, or simply focusing on email standards like SMPT, POP, and IMAP. Context.io provides you with storage and indexing of your emails, and then opens up a new API driven world where things are possible you never imagined. Extending upon existing standards like SMTP, POP, and IMAP with APIs like SendGrid has done is cool, but what Context.io has done represents truly thinking out of the box with APIs--which I love to see..
If you haven't noticed, I’m a huge fan of evolving legacy standards and technologies using APIs, and I think there is plenty of room for this to occur across many business sectors, and layers of the technology world. I don’t think every startup or existing company will have the imagination, or bravery for that matter, to do what Context.io has done, but I applaud their thinking, and would love to see others follow their lead when considering their entry into the API game.
Mapping a new set of web APIs to some very legacy processes, in a simple, easy to use way, takes skill and consideration for not just the legacy tech, but also how modern web APis are designed, deployed, managed, and evangelized. Doing the technical, while also deeply considering how people are using this legacy technologies, how they are embedded in our lives and business like email is, and then developing API driven solutions that solve problems for users in these spaces, takes a serious amount of work.
Ive known about Context.io and what they do for some time now, but the impact of what they do really became evident in my side by side evaluation of them with other email API providers before I had an epiphany about what they are up to. Then after spending time with their team at Defrag, over beers in the taproom, I was able to get a glimpse of the future they envision, building meaningful services on top of email, that truly make users lives easier.
I will continue keeping a close eye on Context.io, and will also be hacking on their API to see what I can do on top of my own email stores, and I encourage you to do the same. If nothing else, use them as a model for how you can possibly think out of the box when designing your next generation of API resources, that consumers won't just love, they will come to depend on.