What is an API? According to Acronym Finder it can be 250 different things! However, in the context of IT, API is an “Application Programming Interface”.
Let’s read this out again – Application programming interface. Is it an interface to program an application? Or is it programming interface to access an application. Well, we know what it is, but we just wanted to show that the acronym itself can already be interpreted in different ways.
The developer community likes this acronym so much that we are not able to find a new one. We keep re-using it every time a new abstraction layer is created. Let’s face it, all problems can be solved by adding another abstraction layer. And that is what the IT community has been doing for ages. From the early times of assembly up until highly sophisticated COTS middleware solutions, we can really see that we have been building layers. Whether those layers are done to solve the problem of increasing complexity or to speed up the development process, the fact is: IT architecture is an endless stream of layers in several dimensions (Hardware, Software, Network, etc). Between these layers – APIs.
In the last two years the API acronym has gained a new meaning. We now have Web APIs. They are trendy, fashionable, cool and expensive to build (most of the time). But, simply put, a Web API is an API that companies offer to the world. Web APIs are used by companies to expose their functionality to the entire developer community, allowing new tools and functionalities to be built by third parties.
Web API trend catches on
Some companies have no idea what functionality they want to expose, but they know they want to have a Web API. It is fascinating as it is once again, technology pushing for business innovation. It is great that companies want to have Web APIs, even before knowing what they want to offer, but it is important that these same companies understand the complexity as well as the security risks that come when embracing this new trend. It is important to notice that Web APIs are expensive to build and without clear architecture strategy and governance, they are doomed to fail.
How can we help?
Do you want to know if you have functionalities that can be exposed as Web API? We can help you leverage the potential of APIs to ensure profitability of your business endeavors. Please contact us.