APIs to the Future - The RSS Blog
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Copyright 2003-5 Randy Charles Morin
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Sat, 08 Apr 2006 16:00:14 GMT
APIs to the Future

At a recent geek event, I was talking to a product manager at one of the promising new Website start-ups. Although they were growing, they weren't growing at the pace of the successful Web 2.0 start-ups like Flickr or YouTube. The product manager was asking for ideas on jump starting his Website. I asked, if he considered an API, where third party developers could tap into their database (their database is very impressive). He asked what I meant. I tried to explain the benefit of open APIs and how they could be used to recruit new users. It then clued into him that they already do this. You see, a user could go to their site and create some data, then they could post that data on their blog. NO! I exclaimed. What if a blog tool could use your API to create some data in your database and post it to the blog. He responded, yes, we already do that and gave me a do you know what we do. He couldn't make the leap that Website could work seamlessly together and share user data, rather than the user having to cut-n-paste HTML from one Website to another. BTW, the well-known Web 2.0 start-up is often associated with the phrase "we need APIs for everything." I really don't think most Web 2.0 techies and BAs understand the power of APIs beyond RSS.

In a second example, I discovered an API for another Web 2.0 startup. Investigating the API, I found it lacked one important ingredient. It didn't use XML. It used an alternate well-known data encoding, but now I had to write a new encoder for my data, rather than using my trusty old DOM parser. Had the API been XML, then I'd be already using it. Now, there's a risk, that I might never use it.

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