One of the most fascinating, yet frustrating, aspects of anything to do with APIs is how rapidly the technology that serves as the foundation for the programmable web evolves. That dynamic volatility was in full view last week at the API Strategy and Practice conference in New York in the form of Daniel Jacobson, director of API engineering at Netflix.
During the conference Jacobson described how Netflix was moving away from RESTful APIs largely because of issues relating to scale. Essentially, Netflix is moving more of the processing of the client to servers managed by Netflix, which promises to reduce much of the network latency associated with serving up content to hundreds of different types of devices.
At the same time, efforts to reduce the dependency on APIs all together continue to gain momentum. The Linked Data Group is working on a standard that would make it easier for developers to simply embed URLs inside their applications.
None of these efforts will reduce the relevance of RESTful APIs. But they do show how truly diverse the programmable web is becoming. The simple truth is that developers will soon be using a mix of all these technologies to define the next generation of Web applications.
In fact, it’s unlikely that that application programming languages and interfaces that are in vogue today are going remain as popular as they are. They’ll never go away entirely. Instead, we’ll probably see management platforms that will make it easier to mix and match different classes of interfaces alongside applications that will be made up of components written in different programming languages.
What is clear is that these technologies are collectively transforming business processes across any number of vertical industries, which would suggest that perhaps the business model having more influence over the choice of interface technologies to be used versus simply building an API and hoping someone will come.
The key thing to remember is that diversity should be celebrated and to not get too attached to one way of doing things in a programmable world where the ground beneath your feet is likely to change at any given moment.