API Ratings Agency Moves Closer To Launch Date

Mark Boyd
Dec. 09 2013, 09:16AM EST

The API Ratings agency aimed at instilling greater trust amongst businesses entering the API economy is set to be unveiled early in 2014. Co-founder Jonathan Bourguignon presented at APIdays Paris last week to discuss the need for the crowdsourced service and told ProgrammableWeb more about the roadmap to launch.

Building trust is an essential ingredient in the growth of the economy, Bourguignon argued, stating that the API economy is no different. Using Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Bourguignon demonstrated how trust has been instrumental in the move from agrarian economies through to post-industrial society. He then cleverly overlayed the model with a mapping of how trust builds a pyramid of greater capacity when viewed through the API economic lens.

However, much like the sub-prime mortgage market in the United States, this trust can crumble when balanced on the apex of an open API. Bourguignon shared data from the soon-to-be-launched API Ratings agency aimed at documenting how well open APIs are serving their business and developer customers. A review of policies and practices amongst 5 of the biggest open APIs over the past several years shows a stream of changes to terms of services that, basically, have changed the business contracts between API developer-consumers and the open API sources that have been instrumental in building business value.

Bourguignon says there are five characteristics that can be monitored to measure how well an open API fosters trust amongst end users and gives confidence to developer-consumers looking to build a business model around the use of externally-owned, open APIs:

  • Quality of API design and documentation
  • Number of developers
  • API team evangelism and developer engagement
  • Breadth of API ecosystem
  • Consistency of terms of service.

Bourguignon explained that the soon-to-be-launched API Ratings agency will monitor open APIs and score each against these five criteria. In addition, users can create an account on the site and contribute their experiences, adding a crowdsourced element to the ratings scales. The way this might look would be to have a radar chart with API Ratings' assessment superimposed with a crowdsourced radar chart of user experiences against the same criteria.

Bourguignon confirmed with ProgrammableWeb that API Ratings is awaiting one more round of feedback from investors and industry mentor/monitors who are contributing their insight into the initial ratings reviews before being launched early in 2014. In the meantime, an industry-wide definition of open API will be released by the ratings agency.

Co-founder Mehdi Medjaoui told ProgrammableWeb that the purpose of API Ratings is two-fold: "For businesses opening their APIs, it is to help understand the ecosystem and encourage best practices in API design, and for developers and businesses starting out with using open APIs, it's to help understand the trustworthiness they can expect from API providers."

Those interested in registering for crowdsourced contributions to API Ratings or to be informed of launch details can sign up on the website.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities. I can be contacted via email, on Twitter, or on Google+.

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