When a federal judge declared in June that software APIs aren’t covered by copyright law, it was a major victory not just for Google against Oracle, but for the API developers and users alike.
For the last six years there has been a Craigslist API, but it’s not the one developers have been clamoring to get their HTTP requests on. It’s still likely an important part of the company’s business model, because it allows bulk posting to its real estate section, the site’s main source of revenue. Yeah, but what about that readable API everyone wants?
The curious popularity of the Google Weather API appears to be coming to a close. The search giant never officially supported the feature, but developers have used the unofficial feed available from the iGoogle homepage. With iGoogle now set for deprecation in November, developers are reporting that the once simple weather API is no longer returning data.
Twitter laid out new developer guidelines and requirements, after much speculation about how developers would be able to use the platform in the future. Some feel pushed around by Twitter’s coming restrictions for displaying tweets, rate limiting and the requirement for major apps to gain Twitter’s permission. As it has in the past, Twitter is giving developers a long time to plan for the changes–six months.
With apologies to the many people I know with some version of it in their title, API Strategy is dead. Long live API strategy, inseparably linked to business strategy. Perhaps a better way to put it is that API strategy has grown up. But it’s the opposite of when humans reach maturity and move out of their parents house. In this case, API strategy is moving in, because it’s all part of the same household now.
We try to stay positive at ProgrammableWeb. We’ve talked a lot about the keys to a great API, but not so much about what some of the lesser APIs do. And, with a directory of over 6,000 APIs, you’d better believe we’ve seen some worst practices.
Among the keys to a great API is one that is managed or measured. One of the common questions we get at ProgrammableWeb is “how should I measure my API?” Usually the problem behind the question is that there’s no shortage of things API providers can track. The secret to how great APIs measure is that they prioritize the metrics that matter.
If you want to attract developers to your platform, obviously great API documentation is important. But that’s really only one piece of the story. The reason clear docs are great is that they enable that first test of an API, the “hello world.” There are several ways to accelerate that process, as described in the five keys to a great API. Below you’ll find six ways to reduce that TTFHW, or time to first hello world.
The whole concept of a programmable Web may just be too important to rely solely on APIs. That’s the thinking behind a Linked Data Working Group initiative led by the W3C that expects to create a standard for embedding URLs directly within application code to more naturally integrate applications. Backed by vendors such as IBM and EMC, the core idea is to create more reliable method for integrating applications that more easily scales by not creating unnecessary dependencies of APIs and middleware.
We’ve seen over 6,500 APIs added to our directory, but we acknowledge they’re not all great. In fact, there’s a known secret if you’ve spent much time with APIs: creating a great API is really, really hard. There are a few attributes we’ve noticed that can make a big difference. Yesterday ProgrammableWeb’s John Musser gave a standing room only talk at OSCon about the topic of a great API and boiled it down to five keys.