Freelance Web Developer

Nov 30, 2012

Why Every Company Should Have APIs

Whats an API?

An application programming interface (API) provides access to the data and services a company is providing in "raw form" (JSON, XML etc) and allows to use that data in diverse ways to get and give value. APIs are the best way to get your services out there and used.

Technically API allows and manages the interaction between two internet connected services. This can be:

  • Getting share price data from the Stock Exchange into a web application.
  • The ability to get Facebook share count for an url.
  • Ability to share on twitter form within a mobile application.

APIs allow data from one online service to flow outside of it, be it through an app or a mashup with another Internet service.

Why Every Company should have an API?

See the curve of ProgrammableWeb's path to a directory with 5,000 APIs:

There are lot of good reasons for a company to create an API and offer it to developers. Here are few:

Think about Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce, Google Maps, Flickr, UPS, etc. They provide APIs on which hundreds of thousands of developers create mashup for millions of users worldwide.

Few B2B / SAAS platforms provide API to integrate with their back-end system having an API here cuts down on the support costs of doing this individually with each customers, increases engagement with your customers.

Other benefit from partners. They can take content and services to integrate into their own applications. Having an API means partners can bring your brand and services to large audiences they already have.

It's worth building a website "API first" - that is; design the data/service API up front and make your web application the first client of your API. It gives you a huge amount of flexibility when new formats and partners start using it.

Let think about the Mobile, what about iphone, ipods, tablets. it's very hard for a startup to support multiple clients on multiple platforms from day one - so having an API early means people can help themselves and integrate your content/services into other applications.

Have I missed any important point? I’d love your thoughts on this topic or other important outcomes providing an API can offers.

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