What Were The Main API Developments In 2017

I am spending two days this week with the Capital One DevExchange team outside of Washington DC, and they’ve provided me with a list of questions for one of our sessions, which they will be recording for internal use. To prepare, I wanted to work through my thoughts, and make sure each of these answers were on the tip of my tongue–here is one of those questions, along with my thoughts.

The main API development in 2017 has been the continued shift towards mainstream API adoption. The concept has been moving outside of the tech sector for a couple years now, but in 2017 it is very clear that it’s not just something startups are doing. This is having a profound shift in how we talk about APIs, and how we approach the API lifecycle. APIs have historically been something new and smaller companies are doing, but often will deliver at scale (AWS, SalesForce, eBay, etc.). The mainstream shift in the API sector brings a whole new set of challenges, and opportunities as existing companies, with existing technology in place, work to shift towards an API way of doing things.

This shift impacts the technology of doing APIs, but really isn’t the main event–things will be business as usual when it comes to the technology of APIs for many years to come. I’d say the main event has been in the business of doing APIs. How these APIs get funded will be entirely different from how startup focused APIs get funded. This shift in financial incentives behind why APIs are developed, operated, and ultimately deprecated, will have profound effects on what is an API. They will have less of the startup shine, and become more robust, providing commercial, and industrial grade digital resources that are more mature than the newer, younger APIs we’ve seen in recent years.

Alongside this shift, another development in the business of APIs has occurred. The funding landscape for startups has shifted substantially. In the last couple years the majority of startup funding has dried up, making it a much more competitive environment for the API providers and service providers startups to get the money they need to grow and evolve. This vacuum has allowed for a new, more volatile, and API driven way of funding to emerge, based upon the blockchain, in the form of Initial Coin Offering, or simply ICO. This approach to raising money is quickly becoming a preferred, albeit a more volatile approach to funding startups. It is something that will work against the reliability and stability of depending on APIs, even more so than we saw with startup and investment culture over the last 7 years.

These two shifts in the business of APIs will be at odds with each other. There will still be startups doing APIs, but they will often be more volatile, ephemeral, and unreliable, but they will still continue to define what is next. While the mainstream adoption of APIs will become a more mature, stable, sustainable approach to doing business with APIs. Providing the services, tooling, and resources that are needed to make the economy work in the Internet age. This shift in the business of APIs landscape will have positive and negative effects on the API sector, but ultimately working together to move things forward in a more sensible way than we have in the wild west of the API sector. We will als begin to see more standards emerge, and more industry leaders who dominate their sector because they’ve found a sustainable way of doing APIs, that transcends much of the hype we’ve seen, and will continue to see in the startup community.