4,000 Web APIs: What's Hot and What's Next?

Adam DuVander
Oct. 03 2011, 12:00AM EDT

Today we're marking another milestone in our API directory: we now list 4,000 of them. It's only been six months since we toasted the 3,000th. And, as we've said before, the site ended its first year, 2005, listing only 105 APIs. The whole web as a platform has come a long way and done so very quickly. There are some areas, such as social, which are incredibly popular. There's also a lot of room for expansion, as industries like travel and retail have yet to fully embrace APIs. How soon will we mark the 5,000th?

FacebookObviously Facebook has been an incredible force on the Internet, so that shows in the over 500 social APIs. In fact, just within Facebook itself we've seen growth over the last year. It's not just the Facebook API now. There are 8 Facebook APIs.

Google PlusWe'd be remiss if we didn't mention the newest player in social APIs. The Google Plus API was released just a couple weeks ago. While the service Google Plus only supports public data, and is read-only, it's a first move in what is bound to become a rich API. After all, the search giant has 91 Google APIs.

Separate from the main Google Plus API is the Google Plus Hangouts API, which provides tools for developers to build collaborative applications within a Google Plus Hangouts video chat room. Video is another area where we continue to see growth, with over 150 video APIs. There were only 100 video APIs a year ago. Video is both hot, as well as poised for growth as "smart TVs" able to run apps become the norm.

Best Buy BBYOpen CommerceSimilarly, there is a movement that could help another popular API category grow much faster than it already has. We list over 200 shopping APIs, but how many will we see when more commerce APIs are released? These APIs bring the purchase into the flow of the app itself, rather than referring traffic. The end result could be hundreds of sellers following in the footsteps of electronics retailer Best Buy with its Best Buy Commerce API, which even allows end users to pick up purchases in a local store.

For more on shopping, which includes biggies like the Groupon API, be sure to check out our breakdown of e-commerce APIs.

Finally, we list just over 100 travel APIs within the 4,000. But there are many travel API opportunities and this is another area that we should see grow soon. Travel is an industry that's always had APIs to distribute flight schedules and ticket prices, but its systems have been much more closed than what web developers are used to seeing. Travel may be the industry that could be most impacted by a move toward the more open way of web APIs.

What do you think? What will be the trends coming as we all zoom toward a world with 5,000 APIs?

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

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