APIs Are Just The Next Step In The Evolution Of The Web

My storytelling on API Evangelist has two sides, one is about refining my own understanding of the API space, and the other is about refining, evolving, and helping make the stories I tell make sense to the widest possible audience that I can. I spent the week around a number of folks who had no idea what an API was, they had heard about them, but admitted that they really did not get what they were. Coming out of this experience, I felt the need to take another crack at the most fundamental API question out there--what exactly is an API?

APIs are just the next step in the evolution of the World Wide Web (aka WWW), which is virtual space where HTML documents are accessible via URLs on the Internet--which allows humans to browse, and consume (or create) information, data, and media (photos, videos, etc). APIs are the same thing, but instead of returning HTML for humans, it returns XML and JSON that is meant to be used by other computer systems, applications, devices. 

Companies provide HTML web pages, so their customers can access information, data, and media. APIs enable companies to provide the same resources to websites, web or mobile application, and increasingly physical devices in our real world, like home appliances, our cars. APIs are not a single companies product or service, it is just the next evolution of the web, which gives companies a wider reach than just a single website.

In the early days of the web, only developers were using it, and now EVERYONE is using it. In 2015, we are just coming to the end of the phase where only developers are putting APIs to work, and we are entering the phase where API service providers like Zapier, APISpark, and Blockspring enable anyone to deploy, consume, and orchestrate with APIs--no programming required.