The API industry is shifting from infancy into its grown-up years. More companies than ever are rolling out large scale API strategies, transforming the job of both frontend and backend developers, and demanding new skills. Here is what I believe is in store for 2016 for API-driven companies -- and what the (fewer and fewer) others will be missing.
Prediction 1: The March Toward API Ubiquity
The first phase of API industrialization has been focused on two categories of organizations:
large enterprises with their existing channels, data they needed to get to customers and partners, as well as application functionality required to get useful data; and players in the digital economy — startup and larger — that based their entire business model on streamlined access to data and backend processes.
In 2016, we will see more SMBs (from the traditional economy) use APIs to connect their businesses with customers and partners using company data, location data, and application logic. The move to APIs will continue to be driven by the rapid proliferation of devices: beyond mobile phones, mass market consumers are using smart watches, smart televisions, wearable sensors, and a wide range of other devices to produce and receive information.
At the dawn of this new year, we are also at the beginning of the march toward API ubiquity. The rate of change and the proliferation of APIs is astounding. Amidst the change, I also see a lot of confusion and a growing need to make it easier for more people to take advantage of this API revolution.
Prediction 2: Crystallization Around API Meta Language
The year 2015 witnessed a shakeup in the API definition language space. Swagger, a popular specification to define APIs, got acquired by SmartBear. Several months later, a group of API technology stakeholders, which includes SmartBear, launched the Open API Initiative (OAI) with the goal to standardize how APIs are described. Restlet was a founding member of this consortium, and under the leadership of our founder and Chief Geek Jerome Louvel, we intend to drive OAI to look beyond Swagger and to cooperate with other areas of the API community, including for example the teams behind RAML, API Blueprint, etc.
The creation of the OAI helped people understand the need for and the importance of an open API meta language. Its success however will be dependent on its ability to cooperate with these other open source and industry specifications. Although it’s easier to focus on Swagger and more difficult to incorporate other communities, that is the real potential here: define and promote a new community specification that represents the requirements of a larger community.
Prediction 3: IoT Drives API Infrastructure Development
How many connected devices will there be on the Internet of Things in 2016? I am sure there are many predictions out there, and that they all disagree with one another. But I know one thing: we are talking billions (with a “b”). As the IoT gains momentum, the companies that shape it will deploy new API infrastructure to receive data from IoT devices, manage the devices, and process analytics.
For example, in 2015, Restlet did some cool work with Ericsson on a connected car project. We also saw a jump in usage of APISpark by developers working with IoT devices. I predict that this trend will increase dramatically in 2016, contributing to fuel the march toward API ubiquity (see prediction 1).