The world is opening with APIs (application programming interfaces)


The world is opening with APIs (application programming interfaces)

Andy Morin, Chief Solution Architect – UST Xpanxion

Introducing new ways for applications to communicate and setting the standard for how modern businesses operate.

Andy Morin

Andy Morin, Chief Solution Architect – UST Xpanxion

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are having their moment and leaving no industry untouched. Though APIs–protocols that let two software programs communicate or exchange data through a common language–have been around for decades, they are now setting the standard for how modern businesses operate. APIs play an essential role as the cornerstone of many digital transformation and digitization initiatives. Consequently, the demand for API-led connectivity is exploding and showing no signs of slowing down.

The API management market, which comprises the complete set of tools, protocols, and subroutines used to create and publish APIs, is expected to grow at an impressive CAGR of 31.05% from 2022 to 2029, according to Data Bridge Market Research. The rapid adoption of enterprise cloud computing to serve as the backbone for most digital transformation strategies, the growing requirement for APIs to connect critical data with applications and devices, and the growing appetite for businesses to gain more knowledge through advanced analytics are the main driving forces behind this exponential growth.

Today, APIs are not just for software companies. Businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit profoundly from the cost savings and efficiency of using API technology. For this reason, IT leaders, CIOs, and the like across every market sector should learn about APIs and API specifications, the difference between open APIs and private APIs, and their respective advantages and uses.

First, it’s essential to know the two crucial elements of an API:

  1. The specification or set of rules that describe the environment for the data exchange
  2. The software interface developers write to adhere to these specifications

Together, they facilitate many transactions that let organizations fulfill essential business processes and commerce in today’s digital world. These include logins, product searches, secure payment transactions across different payment providers, connecting banking accounts, and much more.

What is an API specification?

An API specification is a set of rules that create a standard for exchanging data between two web services. In the software industry, API specifications are often referred to as “contracts” because they also serve as binding agreements between the two communicating systems. Developers depend on the specification (contract) to understand how the API should act and how it should connect with other APIs.

Private APIs open the backend of the business

A private API is an interface that connects (or opens) an organization’s backend of data and applications with its partners and in-house or external developers. The applications can be made publicly available, but the interface is restricted to whom the API owner provides access.

Open APIs open the front end (web apps) for consumer access

Open APIs are publicly available to software developers and are shared freely on the internet. This lets API owners make them universally available to consumers. Though developers can design open APIs in various ways, the main objective of any open API is to be easily used and consumed by as many clients as possible. Hence, using proprietary code or custom data schemes doesn't make much sense. Conversely, open-source technology and community-driven standards (open APIs) make the most sense for publicly consumed APIs.

OpenAPI Specification: the source of truth for open APIs

Today, there are more than 24,000 open APIs available that developers can choose from to design their web APIs. These include the Service Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Web API Description Language (WADL), which have been around since the early 2000s. But these days, the specification that marks the industry standard for web APIs or representational state transfer (REST) APIs is called the OpenAPI Specification (OAS).

OAS was initially known as the Swagger Specification when created in 2009. When version three came along in 2017, it was renamed OAS. OAS is currently on version 3.1.0, and its source of truth resides on the popular code-hosting repository GitHub.

The following critical features set OAS apart from other open API specifications and why OAS is the industry standard for web (open) APIs:

Notably, OAS is part of the Linux Foundation, an established non-profit consortium that promotes and enables mass innovation through open-source technology. The OAS specification is also contributed to and used by large brand companies, including Bloomberg, eBay, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle, to name a few. For these reasons, OAS is more trustworthy and, therefore, more likely to remain supported and prosperous.

The recurring value of APIs

API-driven businesses develop open API applications to share information with customers easily. The company developing the open API application may receive revenue from those consuming the data, and the consumer of the information gains easy access. This efficient process leads to happier customers and, ultimately, more revenue for everyone involved.

Private APIs are used to keep a business’s internal processes and applications connected and to stay linked with partners. In this manner, they serve as the adhesive to digital transformation. Hence, APIs are not only about generating new revenue streams but fundamental to how businesses operate in the modern digital world.

APIs propel innovation and create efficiencies in the business world. They allow developers a self-service framework to create powerful RESTful APIs, making the potential for APIs virtually limitless as a business transformation agent.

There’s little to lose and plenty to gain in efficiency and cost savings by using APIs. At UST Xpanxion, we are API experts with profound knowledge of the modern infrastructures and microservices they traverse and the agile development methodologies required to create APIs.

Contact our API experts today. Let us help you pave the way to the open world of API innovation.