Everytime I see a site opening up their API for the public I feel my programming fingers tingling. It just gives a simple developer so much really cool data to play with. Most of the time I can’t wait to make something cool with it or at least test it out. Facebook (the second biggest social network in the US) just opened its API and even I’m not a member of Facebook and I don’t know anyone who has a Facebook account, but I can’t wait to test it out. The value of personal data is very interesting to experiment with.
From the moment a web platform decides to open up it’s API it decides to add value to the network its located on: The internet. Every API added to the web, gives every developers with internet access an extra ready made tool to use. It fits perfectly in the ecosystem of the web: Companies use the internet as network to reach their customers/members, they give something back to the network in the form of opening its data source to the public.
There is however a downside of the story. Most public web services are only for non-commercial use and they don’t provide any guarantee of access to the service. If you want to use a public service in your own tool, it is a bit sensitive because you are partly dependent of the provider of the web service you use. I think this slows down a lot of new innovations on the web. Web service providers need to provide a paid plan without restrictions, which gives other companies the possibility to commercially use their data. This can guarantee access to the service and will diminish the fear of using external data in your own platform. Of course the paid plan is only to ensure access, if you want fast innovation you also need a open free web service for your developers to play with. A very good example of this, is the use of Amazon’s Simple Storage Service.
If we can evolve to a model for commercial use of APIs, we’ll see a boost of new mashup services. The way we look at building web platforms will fundamentally change. Fast innovation will not mean, fast development. Fast innovation will mean using the right web services and integrating them flawlessly in your own web platform.
Mashup kids like me can’t wait to see the web evolving in a faster innovating network. Rapid development, easy deployment.
Yesterday the facebook API opened up, today the Facebook Friend Mapper. This is what I call fast innovation.