Here are 8 API trends to watch in 2019. We identified the following ways for companies to grow and scale healthy API programs. How are companies leveraging APIs to deliver results?
1. End-to-end experience
Consider the APIs your organization built to serve employees, customers, and partners. Are the APIs available in your organization to cover business and technical scenarios to deliver a seamless experience for each touchpoint? How compelling is the experience for your internal and external customers to keep returning?
Senior .NET developer, James Hickey, explains the issue:
“Knowledge of the business’ problem is essential. How can you build a solution to a problem you don’t fully understand?”
Empathy-driven Developer Experience DX
DX is essentially a great user experience UX applied to the developer as the end-user. With the high global demand for API talent and short supply, DX as a focus determines whether you earn mind share and engagement.
This trend appeared in discussions at the Developer Experience Conference, where Peter Merholz, an originator of the experience design discipline explains that though “the specifics of where the UI lives will change… approach to designing and experience is going to be the same.”
As a result, major software companies now pair designers with engineering to create faster, more efficient DevOps processes, development lifecycles, and Command Line Interfaces CLIs. We see the positive and widely received adoption of Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code as part of applying UX to software development itself.
2. API Design
It’s never too late to focus on API Design. Some enterprises, pressured to deliver on product features in tight development cycles, believe that there is no time to become API First. The value of starting the next sprint cycle or even research spike with API First can help R&D immediately compare results with the current design. Save time and resources by designing the API with all stakeholders such as using Stoplight.
Every organization will differ based on where they are in the API Maturity Model. Jenny Wanger created a workshop called “How Mature are You: A Developer Experience Maturity Model” with a rubric to self-score and create a roadmap to socialize among stakeholders. Jenny presented this model at an API Strategy & Practice Conference that remains relevant.
Axel Grosse, VP of Innovation, delivered the API First initiative across Axway. The initiative pairs well with Axway’s API First journey based on Kin Lane’s research for a comprehensive look at design outside in and inside out.
A strategic iceberg model unlocks the ease of use and scalability of great API design which is the key to reaching API builders and consumers. Unless your company is a recent start-up, most likely you’re modernizing your API-centric architectures while prioritizing critical technical debt.
Automated and behavioral methodologies pair to deliver dynamically secure systems. Is your API vendor Common Criteria certified? What kind of ABAC-based dynamic authorization, behavioral security, and pre-built identity integration connectors and token mediation capabilities does your solution handle gracefully? IT leaders are looking to intelligently adaptive answers to security needs such as those highlighted in the KuppingerCole Report.
What else can organizations do?
- Closely monitor your API and full development lifecycle to protect against data breaches and any security vulnerabilities
- Stay up to date on industry security leaders who continually share ways to keep your business secure especially through APIs
4. AI and ML-based APIs
Using predictive analytics APIs to combine big data, embedded, visual, spatial/location, text, web, network and mobile information have evolved to include natural language processing especially within context per Business Intelligence trends.
New sources of real-time data help with trend detection for faster responses to intelligence. For example, Netflix now offers interactive content that simulates the Choose Your Own Adventure format most notable in a “Black Mirror” special. Another example from my colleague, Uli Hitzel, reminds us of how Axway partnered with Elastic Beam to leverage an AI API.
5. Ecosystem-driven platform technology
In this Harvard Business Review article, the authors examine how digital network firms face the operational complexity of the question “What enables digital platforms to fight off competition and grow profits?”. Though platforms can scale quickly, the execution of the network ecosystem powered by APIs must remain nimble to tying together varying industries such as commerce, financial services, retail, and entertainment.
Innovating in these environments invites API bundled products. My colleague, Brian Otten, who led professional services for clients implementing API design, advises using the API Catalog as a way of navigating available API bundled products to open up a whole additional set of target users. This trend has been going on since at least 2015 when Kin Lane wrote about monetizing combined API calls.
6. Protocol agnostic, specification friendly
Treating the specification as the single source of truth of an API is the core of a powerful API program. While SOAP/XML WSDL/WADL-based APIs serve some industries very well, companies and technologies are moving beyond REST JSON APIs. Yet OAS 3 adoption still tops the chart for this year’s top RESTful trend.
Tooling, frameworks, and documentation processes that support gRPC, asynchronous APIs (messaging, streaming, pub/sub) are on the radars of enterprises, SMBs, and start-ups. For example, Slack implemented OAS sister spec AsyncAPI to address non-HTTP based asynchronous APIs such as MQTT, Kafka, WebSockets, AMQP, and STOMP protocols.
This trend leads us to the rise of transformers — My friends at APIMatic created a free tool to transform API specifications from one format to another. They will publish 2018 results like the anonymized version from the previous year that captured geographical, common formats (OpenAPI, Postman collection, API BluePrint, WSDL, WADL, RAML), successful transforms, API size, and relevant conversion statistics. Postman Client and Stoplight plan to release specification transformers.
7. Lessons from…
The Open Source Community
- The big picture matters. Nurturing the developer community makes a difference. Community-powered innovation is now driving enterprise ecosystems and vice versa.
- Open source does not mean free of cost.
- Global, asynchronous collaboration, and ease of contribution is key to adoption and scale.
API Aggregation-related M&A’s and training
- API and microservices related data and research matters hence the acquisitions of ProgrammableWeb, API Academy and
- MOOCs such as Udemy offer 65 courses to date on APIs and LinkedIn Learning offers 208 courses, over 2,600 videos, seven learning paths, and over 2,000 intermediate level API experiences for professionals.
APIOps encompasses the API developer experience which is a subset of DevOps. Just as GitLab is an enterprise tool to manage the Git-repository, wiki, issue tracking, and CI/CD pipeline features adopted by many development organizations, so now practitioners and researchers are applying these value stream management capabilities for the entire API development life cycle.
As we watch these 8 API trends together across industries and verticals, be sure to interact with us to let us know your thoughts and observations.
API Strategy — Speed of Value to Market
Though trends are gathered annually, what’s timeless is following an articulated plan to guarantee a time to market using technology to reuse, transform and properly expose assets as APIs both inside and outside of your company contributing to a rich API economy.
Whether a coveted set of skills and talent or powerful technology, the strategy should include success metrics for groups across the organization from product management, R&D, to sales, customer service, and support. An API strategy and supporting program are key to nurturing and innovating with employees, customers, partners, and sparring with rising competition while beating current ones.
The local and global ecosystems that support healthy API programs speed up what businesses want to achieve.
Check out the APIs and microservices White Paper to learn more about your API Journey.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” — African Proverb.
API Design Style Guides
Recent Book Titles
- Designing Web APIs: Building APIs That Developers Love, O’Reilly Media
- Irresistible APIs: Designing web APIs that developers will love, Kirsten Hunter, API Evangelist
- Build APIs You Won’t Hate, Phil Sturgeon, Platform Engineer
The standards group led by Dr. Jarkko Moilanen is a community dedicated to building standardized AP value chain automation. Marjukka Niinioja developed the Creative Commons-licensed lean API development and management model “APIOps Cycles” for wide adoption.