APIs are used in many, many ways in a wide range of industries. However, it seems that some organisations are implementing them in more beneficial ways than others, according to David Weinberger’s recent article for Nieman Reports.
The Guardian, The Times, and NPR have all applied a technical architecture to expose their resources to external developers via an API-driven open platform. This allows them to provide access to customised content for partner or third-party sites in a way that benefits everybody.
This structure has benefits for internal processes too, as APIs power robust systems capable of handling changes to inputs and workflows. APIs also reduce the development time on applications since, rather than populating news apps with content, devs are able to focus on the UI knowing that APIs are comfortably handling the media. This experience was expressed by both NPR and The Guardian during development of respective prototype iPad apps back in 2008.
Despite early applications built on their APIs largely failing to meet expectations, there were some success stories and all three organisations continue to sing APIs’ praises for internal use. The dream of getting news flowing freely through all corners of the internet through third-party apps may rely on some as-yet-unseen technologies, possibly involving some form of advertising network backed up by revenue sharing to encourage external development. However, at the moment, APIs still look like the most efficient tool for distributing the constant stream of news and information from around the globe.