API SDKs Getting More Specialized

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the client and SDK areas of my research lately, considering how these areas overlap with the world of bots, as well as with voice, and iPaaS. I'm thinking about the hand-crafted, autogenerated, and even API client as a service like Postman, and Paw. I'm thinking about how APIs are being put to work, across not just web and mobile, but also systems to system integration, and the skills in voice platforms like Alexa, and the intents in bot platforms like Meya.

I'm considering how APIs can deliver the skills needed for the next generation of apps beyond just a mobile phone. I kicked off my SDK research over a year ago, where I track on the approaches of leading platforms who are offering up code samples, libraries, and SDKs in a variety of programming languages. While conducting my research, I've been seeing the definition of what is an SDK slowly expand and get more specialized, with most of the expansion in these areas:

  • Mobile Development Kit - Providing code resources to help developers integrate their iPhone, Android, Windows, and other mobile applications with APIs.
  • Platform Development Kits - Provide code resources for using APIs in other specific platforms like WordPress, SalesForce, and others.

In addition to mobile, and specific platform solutions, I am seeing API providers stepping up and providing iPaaS options, like ClearBit is doing with their Zapier solutions. As part of this brainstorm exercise, I feel like I should also add a layer dedicated to delivering via iPaaS:

  • Integration Platform as a Service Development Kits - Delivering code resources for use in iPaaS services like Zapier, allowing for simpler system to system integration across many different platforms, with some having a specific industry focus.

Next, if I scroll down the home page of API Evangelist, I can easily spot 11 other areas of my research that stand out as either areas I'm seeing SDK movement or an area I'd consider to be an SDK opportunity:

  • Voice Development Kit - Code resources to support voice application and device integrations.
  • Bot Development Kit - Code resources for delivering bot implementations on various platforms.
  • Visualization Development Kit - Code resources and tooling for helping deliver visualizations derived from data, content, and algorithms via API.
  • Virtualization Development Kit - Code resources to support the creation of sandbox environments, use of dummy data, and other virtualization scenarios.
  • Command Line Development Kit - Code resources to support usage of API resources accessed via command line interfaces.
  • Embeddable Development Kit - Code resources providing embeddable JavaScript buttons, badges, and other widgets.
  • Orchestration Development Kit - Code resources and schema for use in continuous integration and other delivery tooling and services.
  • Real Time Development Kit - Code resources designed to augment API resources with real-time features and technology.
  • Spreadsheet Development Kit - Code resources designed for using spreadsheets as API data source, as well as putting API resources to use in spreadsheet environments.
  • Drone Development Kit - Code resources designed to support drones, and the hardware, application, and networks that support them.
  • Auto Development Kit - Code resources designed specifically for integration with major manufacturer and 3rd party aftermarket platforms.

I am thinking about open source solutions in a variety of programming languages, that put APIs to work for delivering data, content, and algorithms for delivery to the specialized endpoints above. I've seen mobile development kits evolve out of the standard approach to providing APIs SDKs out of the need to deliver resources to mobile phones, over questionable networks, and a constrained UI. This type of expansion will continue to grow, increasing the demand for specialized client solutions that all employ the same stack of web APIs.

This is just some housekeeping and brainstorming client and SDK areas of my research. I'm just working to understand how some of the other areas of my research are potentially overlapping with these layers. After seeing common patterns in iPaaS, Voice, and Bots, it got me thinking about other areas I've seen similar patterns occur. Obviously, these aren't areas of SDK development that all API providers should be thinking about, but depending on your target audience, a handful of them may apply.

I go back on forth regarding the importance of SDKs to API integration. I enjoy watching the API client as a service providers like Postman and Paw, as well as straight up SDK solutions like APIMATIC. When I crack open tooling like the Swagger Editor, and services like APIMATIC, I'm impressed with the increasing number of platforms available for deployment--enabling both API deployment and consumption. As I watch API service providers like Restlet and Apiary evolve their design, deployment, and management solutions to cater t more stops along the API life cycle, I find myself more interested in what could be next.