When you start to see a venture capitalist and an Internet publisher debate about an “API” and its importance to a company, you suddenly realize that there’s some silliness afoot in the world when an “API”– short for Application Programming Interface — is the latest buzzword. Perhaps it’s all been driven by the hype over Facebook’s API for third party developers, but suddenly everyone is talking about how having an API is the “next big thing.”
Folks, maybe it’s just the software engineer in me talking (having spent many many years developing software applications, sitting in standards organizations, developing open API standards, and otherwise glued to software development)–but having an API to anything — your software or your Internet software — is the simplest thing in the world. If you have software, you have an API.
An API is just that — an interface to whatever your software does, good or bad. If you can’t turn out a decent API for ANY Internet service or software application– even a simple REST or SOAP service–I don’t know what kind of software developers you are hiring. Sure, it takes a decent software developer to create a well-thought out, easy to use API, but that’s basically what software developers are paid to do all day–create application programming interfaces to their software and algorithms.
It’s not the API that matters– it’s if:
a) Your API provides something useful to the world
b) If you can get software developers to adopt it
C) If anyone cares enough about your service to BOTHER using the API
Just having an API–as in “oh, we have an API, you should fund us”–isn’t enough. Everything has an API — perhaps only available privately, but easily enough exportable — it’s what you do with it.