5 API Questions To Ask - InformationWeek

5 API Questions To Ask

Before signing on for the new crop of "everything as a service," do some digging into the application programming interfaces that tie things together

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Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
1/17/2014 | 4:48:10 PM
Re: Biggest mistake?
Has anyone developed an automated API change update system? Not long ago, manual software updates were the norm. Now, it's one-click updating, at least for consumer apps. It would be great if an API provider could create a script that scanned code and rewrote lines invoking deprecated APIs with updated references.
User Rank: Ninja
1/17/2014 | 1:33:34 PM
Control over change
Touches very nicely on a key difference in inhouse and cloud systems: Who dictates the schedule when things change?  The new API they produce may have have some slick new functions but if not relevant to you, you are changing your API connection for no business value whatsoever. And if Murphy has anything to say about it, having to do it at the worst possible time.

When you have source code, you can skip generations of new versions if they bring nothing to the business. And if you opted out of annual maintenance, saved enough to just buy the new version again when it does bring some business value to the table.
User Rank: Ninja
1/17/2014 | 1:15:39 PM
Documentation Quality
The quality of the documentation is usually a pretty good indicator about what kind of service you are getting in to. If the documentation is incomplete, hard to understand, full of typos and such, then the API is almost certainly going to be junk, and by extension, the service which the API accesses is almost certain to be junk as well.

Having 20 zillion Enterprise users of an API is no assurance that the API doesn't suck. Cough cough Infusionsoft cough Yodlee cough cough.

Good API docs leave a developer excited to start working. Twilio is a good example of API done right. If the devs are smiling while reading the docs, things are likely going to work out well. If they are shaking their heads, straining their eyes, things are probably not going to work out well. If they are doing faceplams, no matter what the sales guy promised, its going to be a nightmare.
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/17/2014 | 11:06:58 AM
Super hot skillset
Being able to peruse vendor APIs to determine if they fit your needs is going to be a great skill to have this year. Need both dev/QA chops and an understanding of the network and business needs. DevOps+.
User Rank: Apprentice
1/17/2014 | 10:43:37 AM
Re: Biggest mistake?
I really think the biggest mistake is being dazzled by the data and not really taking time to consider up front how that data will be used - and where. The costs associated with trying to integrate data that just doesn't fit well into processes or services can end up negating the benefits - or simply wind up not being used. 
David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
1/17/2014 | 10:26:26 AM
Biggest mistake?
What's the biggest mistake buyers make when evaluating an API? Is there one thing you would say is overlooked most frequently?
User Rank: Author
1/17/2014 | 9:26:47 AM
Great questions
Great questions, Lori, thanks for sharing. You're not paying for charts but data. Important to remember when folks outside IT love those charts so much.
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