Web API Language Development is Moving Forward

Mark Boyd
Dec. 05 2013, 07:18AM EST

As part of a presentation at APIDays today, Jerome Louvel, CEO of APISpark announced the all-in-one API web management platform has now moved into an open beta stage. As a result, developers can sign up and gain access to the platform immediately, without awaiting a registration approval stage.

Louvel made the announcement as part of an industry keynote exploring the current and emerging frontiers in web API language development. While C and Assembly remain in the top 20 languages used around the globe, modern programming is a "tale of abstraction", said Louvel. We are moving from hardware, assembly, and system languages and rising to application and web API language abstraction layers.

Web API Languages: Current State

Currently Web API languages tend to describe web APIs in XML and JSON-driven representations, using markup languages like XML, JSON, YAML, and MarkDown. They tend to be able to generate code with client SDKs and server skeletons.

Web APIs: The New Language Frontiers

Louvel argues that in order for APIs to scale to the million API goal, developers will need to program the web directly. Instead of invoking a Java API, for example, the idea would be to program through web APIs with natively speaking HTTP semantics. "It shouldn't have to go through an HTTP library to do that. This is not just about the API contract but about implementation as well," said Louvel. In addition, web APIs should be local or remote, "inherently component-based and designed for the cloud, with consideration given to being ready for load-balancing, scaling, etc."

Finally, Louvel argues that new web API programming languages need to enable cloud-ready implementation. They should run on-top of IaaS and be built-in to be a persistent service.

Rethinking Web API Development

Louvel's keynote presentation focused on several features he sees as a necessity for the next Web API language development:

  • The API editor should be a visual or command line editor
  • It should be collaborative and easy to compose, and allow easy importation of third party APIs
  • The API compiler should be able to generate from a more abstract layer back into lower-level languages for use as an application language code
  • The API debugger should be able to support both synchronous and asynchronous calls, and be HTTP semantic (Louvel pointed to Runscope as a leader in this space at the moment)
  • The API running environment should make it easy to test your API, to be able to use a web API framework, and should be able to test locally first
  • API documentation should let developers document APIs with easy to maintain technical documentation, and advanced capacities to manage documentation on the API contracts side
  • Developers should be able to deploy APIs: APIs should be built on top of IaaS, be able to target remote application servers, and be as easy as pressing a button, allowing targeting on either staging or production environments. Deployment should have cross-region deployment in mind, for high availability and low latency. (Louvel points to SlashDB as one of the few service providers offering these capabilities at present.)

An IaaS Revolution

"A whole new web API game is starting", Louvel said. "To fully embrace the potential for web APIs to be a disruption factor that reduces development costs and time-to-market, we need a revolution in Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Partners need high availability of your services via API: availability across regions, with zero downtime and low latency. This will become the standard in SLAs."

Louvel calls this new agenda: "the verticalization of platform-as-a-service. At the moment, platform services are very generic, so they are not taking care of that first part of your project: building something specific. To get the full productivity of a self service platform, you can't have a generic service. You need to be able to build something specific in your vertical industry. So with API Spark, we are providing a verticalized solution. It's like the Wordpress platform, but for APIs."

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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