FoWA: Ten reasons why you need to build an API – Shaun Inman

API facilitates requesting, manipulating and exchanging data. Successful API obscures the storage format of the requested data as well as the details of the retrieval process. Don’t want your API to break if you break your storage.

Everyone has an API these days. Who is using APIs? Well, who isn’t?

Websites, widgets, desktops apps, bloggers.

– Increase brand awareness

Lay people don’t care about APIs. But you’re empowering people to do something with your data. People like to talk about things that empower them, so if someone is using your API in a way that’s new, they’ll talk about it, build more buzz.

– Allows people to use their own data

Feel more comfy if you can pull your own data out and take it with you wherever you want.

– Build goodwill with developers

– A perfect excuse for a community

Pulls people together around a common feature central to your app.

– Solving programming problems with an API in mind can improve code quality

Less work, less revisions.

– Simplify internal reuse of data

Present your data in different ways.

– Allows others to extend the functionality of your application

Means people can do things that you weren’t going to do, or didn’t think of.

– Allows alternate input mechanisms

E.g. Ecto or MarsEdit for blogs.

– Unanticipated applications of your data

Sort of like the Grey Album, an unanticipated use of the White Album and the Black Album. Chicago real-time crime maps.

– Turn your program into a platform

One thought on “FoWA: Ten reasons why you need to build an API – Shaun Inman

  1. I love your article on API. I agree with you one hundred percent. Indeed, an API lets people know about your application; so, this is why I am so interested in learning how to build my own. What do you think about google’s OpenSocial API for social network websites like myspace and Hi5? Google saw that Facebook is capturing the majority of Myspace members and set out to do something about it. Google said it wants to provide their API to all social network sites, which is a good thing. However, google’s own social network site (Orkut) gets first dibs with this API. Google said it will eventually make the API available to all social sites, but not so fast. Google is making sure that its own social site reaps as much benefit from its API before every single social site on the net gets a chance at the big pie. What do you think about this approach by Google?

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