Looking through the numbers for my API Evangelist research, and tallying up what I've learned along the way, I feel like the next opportunity out there will be about API design and definitions. The release of the API Stylebook, and Materia reflect this opportunity — serving the growing appetite for API design knowledge, and tooling being generated as businesses continue waking up to the need for APIs.
The API management landscape has been well defined by pioneers like 3Scale and Apigee, and validated by their acquisitions by Red Hat and Google this summer. What is picking up momentum now, is the world of API design services, tooling, and specification set into motion by early pioneers of API design like Apiary.io. I am guessing it will play out over the next six years or so, taking longer than we expect, similar to the way API management has played out.
This is when pioneers like Apiary will do well, but there will also be a steadily increasing need for new ways to help API providers craft their API designs, and leverage these definitions for use across almost every aspect of the API life cycle. Companies who have a good handle on their API surface area, and schema at play, will more successfully deploy, manage, test, scale, and orchestrate with this infrastructure. When you have all the moving parts well defined, the chances you will have a better handle on things only increases.
Modern approaches to defining your APIs using API Blueprint and OpenAPI Spec are allowing us to better define the fast growing and evolving (almost too fast) layers of API we are developing and operating. API design services like Apiary and Restlet Studio are helping us better work with API definitions across the API life cycle. The API Stylebook is helping us share API design knowledge, and Materia is pushing the API design and deployment conversation forward. This is just the beginning of a wealth of new services, open source tooling and specifications that will emerge to help define this next API lifecycle opportunity.