A musical composition is often formed from a collection of sounds that are produced by a variety of instruments. Similarly, developers can piece together an assortment of APIs to form something that is potentially greater than the sum of its parts. This analogy was recently discussed in an article written by Sam Macklin of CA Technologies.
The digital era has greatly simplified music creation for the average artist. Software is now readily available that provides catalogues including thousands of audio samples (pre-recorded audio clips), featuring almost every instrument known to man. These samples are often recorded in world-renowned studios by accomplished musicians. In addition, the instruments played and the microphones used to capture the performances are often worth thousands of dollars. While producing a song, musicians can supplement their skill set with these samples to result in a fuller, more balanced creation than may have been otherwise possible.
In this analogy developers are simply musicians, piecing together samples (APIs created by providers who specialize in their respective fields) to create something greater than time, resources, or skill set may have allowed for. This analogy also extends to the inherently symbiotic nature of APIs, just as both the music software provider and the musician benefit, so do the API provider and developer. In reference to the potential gain for API providers, Macklin put it this way: “By enabling developers to make creative use of backend data and application functionality, enterprises can unlock the previously untapped value of their IT infrastructure and apply this to their products and services.”
APIs represent a tremendous opportunity for developers to reach beyond what has ever been possible before and create something that is truly a work of art.