I like to pick worrisome patents from my API patent research and share them on my blog regularly. Last week, I talk about Patent #US9300759 B1, and today, I want to talk about patent #US09471283: Generating virtualized application programming interface (API) implementation from narrative API documentation. According to its abstract:
A virtualized Application Program Interface (API) implementation is generated based upon narrative API documentation that includes sentences that describe the API, by generating programming statements for the virtualized API implementation based on parsing the narrative API documentation and generating the virtualized API implementation based on upon the programming statements for the virtualized API implementation. The parsing of the narrative documentation may use a natural language parser and a domain-specific ontology for the API that may be obtained or created for the API. The virtualized API implementation may be generated using an API virtualizer.
I generally won't talk smack about folks filing patents, but I'm a pretty strong believer that the API interface and the supporting elements that make an API do the API thing should be left out. All the elements present in this patent like virtualization, documentation, and narrative need to be open; this is how things work. Just when we are all beginning to get good when it comes to crafting useful APIs, learning to speak in complete sentences with multiple APIs, we are going to patent the process of telling stories with APIs? Sorry, it just doesn't compute for me. I know this is what y'all do at big companies, but it's counterproductive.
Instead of filing this patent, I wish they would have taken their idea and launched as open-source tool, then also launched an accompanying service running in the cloud and gotten to work letting us crafting narratives around our APIs. As I've said before, these patents really mean nothing, and it will all come down to keeping an eye on the court filings using the CourtListener API for any cases that are being litigated using API related patents.
It won't stop me from complaining, though. I just wish folks would spend their time on more productive things instead of slowing down the world of APIs.