Enterprise architect's guide to API best practices and trends
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Application programming interfaces (APIs) make it possible for organizations to expose information over the Internet for mobile application use. APIs can be used for everything from making money and saving money, to help build a brand or move to the cloud. While API development certainly isn't new, it is evolving, making it important for architects to be in the proper mindset when working with the technology.
In this excerpt Q&A, industry insiders discuss the latest trends they see in API development and what architects can do to stay ahead of the curve in the New Year.
What trends do you see happening with APIs and API development? What advice do you have for architects as they work with APIs in 2014?
Shawn Rogers, Enterprise Management Associates Inc., vice president
The evolution that I am seeing the most in the space right now is that the platforms and the ecosystems for IT professionals are becoming very difficult to manage. It's becoming more diverse from an application standpoint, more desperate from a location standpoint, and APIs can play a really great role in helping IT be more agile and flexible. Ultimately, that means developers will be more apt to serve their end users in a smarter way.
When you go into the cloud, a fully-hosted API management platform gives the consumer and the API developer both a common place to leverage and get greater value instead of some of the point solutions that are in the marketplace. Cloud makes it simple to access and takes off the burden of managing the facility or the platform itself. The consumer and API producer, both ends of the value chain, get to take advantage of the cloud.
Justin Helmig, StrikeIron Inc., executive vice president of products and technology
If developers and architects aren't familiar with APIs already, they need to be. It's definitely a revolution that is happening. APIs are coming and it makes a lot of sense as one starts to look at the growing importance of the user experience. APIs allow developers to peel back the user experience level and provide plumbing, then lay whatever kind of optimized user experience on top of those APIs. It provides a much more personalized, streamlined process that allows one to tailor the experience per device without a lot of code rewrite.
The biggest change is from SOAP to REST. It's a bit of a religious debate. If you come from more of the enterprise side, SOAP is still very much in favor. When you start to talk to the more open developer community, or you start to talk to folks that are developing mobile applications, they really prefer the REST protocol.
Maneesh Joshi, SnapLogic Inc., director of product marketing: Cloud and APIs
Architects need to work on APIs that are well thought out and easy to consume. The more lightweight they are, the more the adoption they'll experience by mobile developers. The higher the adoption, the more the opportunities to get a company's brand in front of the appropriate audience and the higher the revenue opportunities.
Well-designed architecture is one that should be doing all the heavy lifting and not the mobile app developer. For instance, if a typical mobile application needs to access information from multiple applications, don't force them to make those calls individually. Help them make the experience of their mobile applications amazing by aggregating some of the common invocation patterns into a single API call, with the aggregation being taken care of in a platform such as an integration Platform as a Service.
Publishing well-designed and lightweight APIs is the way to go for businesses to attract mobile application developers to their APIs and underlying products and services. Developers and architects can capitalize on the brand new innovation cycle that is making the IT professional's life a lot easier and productive. This is an opportunity to give new tools and technologies a chance.
Editor's note: Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
About the author:
Maxine Giza is the associate site editor for SearchSOA.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.