APIcon 2014: Making the Leap into the API Unknown

Today at the official opening of the APIcon 2014 conference, Uri Sarid CTO of MuleSoft (parent company of ProgrammableWeb), challenged developers to think more about the great API unknown than perhaps better-known issues that are well on their way to finding resolutions.

The first issue that Sarid said needs more attention from the API community is how interfaces themselves are actually tested. He explained that it’s almost impossible to separate the implementation of an interface from the interface itself.

Next up Sarid said that hypermedia paths need a fair amount of additional work that should involve everything from tooling, to input-output dependency specifications. The ultimate hypermedia goal, said Sarid, should be to make it a lot easier for developers to “walk through” all the possibilities that any particular hypermedia API scenario might present.

Recognizing that, in lieu of better hypermedia tooling, Sarid also called for more work in the area of DRY Testing of APIs, which today provides a relatively brute force method for testing APIs.

Finally, Sarid said that given the demand for real-time API interactions there’s clearly a need for more research on how two-way APIs might actually be practically deployed. Sarid acknowledges that there is currently a lot of research being done in this area, but given the demand for this capability two-way APIs represent a major opportunity to expand the API economy.

While Sarid identified these areas as opportunities for further API exploration he noted that most of the areas that currently generate the most controversy are well on to their way to resolution.

Advances in API specifications such as RAML and Swagger, coupled with increased identification and reuse of patterns, are making it easier to consistently invoke APIs. While better understanding of how to implement version control and security are increasing API confidence.

At the same time, Sarid noted that multiple types of directories are making it easier to discover APIs and that even the controversy surrounding API copyrights will soon lead to a better understanding of what types of APIs should be used in various circumstances.

Clearly, the API economy is still in its infancy. But with each successive wave of both technical and business hurdles that are being overcome, the API economy gets stronger. The challenge facing developers now, says Sarid, is to not so much focus on the issues that generate the most headlines, but rather to start thinking through all the tasks that need to be resolved to make for a stronger API economy tomorrow.

Be sure to read the next APIcon article: Getty Images API Provides Developers Free Access to Millions of Images