API Resource, Capabilities, and Experiences

I am profiling APIs for APIs.io. I started with Twilio and Stripe, and working my way through many more. I am profiling their API operations using APIs.json, outlining their business approach to doing APIs, but I am also making sure the surface area of each API is profiled using an OpenAPI, profiling the technical dimension of each API. This work is tedious, but worth it. When you get the details of both the business and technical details of an API available in a machine-readable way, you end up with new found API discovery abilities to see which API providers are producing raw API resources, shaping our core digital capabilities, and which are contributing to more meaningful, or at least useful digital experiences.

Sifting through API operations, profiling, and then writing titles, summaries, descriptions, and tags for different APIs—-you get to know them. Most are just Create, Read, Update, and Delete, or CRUD resources. They are the raw bits and bytes we depend on at scale across the API, digital, and wider economy. This is what we have focused on producing for the last 20 years, with companies existing at different points in their RESTful, or resourceful API journey. Those who are further along in their journey, you begin to see other more advanced states of transformation existing alongside each resource-—allowing you to do more. These are API capabilities. These are the buffet of API operations that empower you to do more than just CRUD, and give you the capabilities you need across desktop, web, mobile, device, and now AI applications. API capabilities allow us to evolve beyond the grunts and groans of CRUD resources–mastering the state change of our digital resources.

However, as you work your way through different API providers and the diverse range of tag realms that apply to APIs across industries, you begin to see the patchwork of APIs, both resources and capabilities that are getting stitched together into more meaningful, beneficial, and revenue generating digital experiences. This is the realm where application developers have leveraged raw resources and capabilities from Stripe, Twilio, WhatsApp, Youtube, and other API providers have been delivering experiences. This is where API developers will be bundling and orchestrating across many APIs and API providers to deliver the next generation of experiences that push desktop, web, mobile, and device applications using AI interfaces. It isn’t just databases or APIs that will be powering successful AI applications, it is well-defined, well-designed, and well-organized APIs that shape the next generation of digital experiences.

It is fascinating to profile Stripe and Twilio, two APIs we’ve held up as models for the last decades, and see them OK when it comes to design and operations, and realizing they are just commodities within a larger API economy that are delivering delivery, entertainment, and other daily experiences. We have a lot of API resources available to us today. We have a growing number of API capabilities available to us. We don’t have that many meaningful API experiences crafted that rise above the noise. This is something that will drag down desktop, web, mobile, and device applications, and will severely diminish everyone’s enthusiasm with AI applications in coming years. We need more high quality API resources and API capabilities to move us forward, but we are going to need these resources and capabilities easily discoverable and organized into meaningful API experiences that span multiple API providers, with options for load balancing across many similar API providers. Us nerdy API folks see and care (sometimes) about API resources and capabilities, but the only thing that matters to end-users and ultimately are what wins, will be API experiences.