What is an API?
APIs or application program interfaces are a collection of tools that programmers use when developing computer software. Specifically, the API is what allows the different programs and hardware components in a computer to interact. In years past, developers interacted with their API strictly through the keyboard and a set of commands (which can be thought of as its own language).
In the future, as AI technology progresses, APIs will be making a switch from keyboard inputs and specific commands to regular conversation. Instead of telling your API what to do, you’ll have a conversation with it and work towards the best way to solve the issue you have at hand.
For more on that, and what else developers can expect from APIs in the years to come, we asked a group of industry experts…
What’s The Future Of APIs?
Here’s what they had to say…
Todd Mosier, VP of Product Marketing at Adwerx
“Looking back 15 years, there were kids who simply grew up with social media. Today, they impact the conversation in entirely new ways because they never knew any different. Look forward 15 years from today, and you’ll find developers will never knew a world without APIs.
They will expect API-driven data and services to be available at their fingers, just like the Amazon Cloud Services is today. Ask for facial recognition, there it is. Ask for a store front photo, and poof! you have it in 5 sizes and resolutions.
The technological shift is happening now, but the foundational shift will follow more slowly because it’s driven by people, and it’s still people who write the code. These new developers will build incredibly complex networks we can’t predict, because they never knew a world that wasn’t connected, and we struggle to imagine one that is.”
David Hobbs, Security Evangelist at Radware
“API’s are really starting to become mainstream today and with the onset of SDN, we will see the API as being the most important part of IT in 10-15 years. The jobs of logging in at the keyboard to individual devices will be gone within 5 years, and we will begin to see the security aspects of this become a much larger risk to organizations. Digital transformation will adopt apps to API’s and all of the power of automated cloud providers will be available as an everyday normal process.”
Neil Trevett, President of The Khronos Group
“There are many types of API in the industry today. Ranging from the ephemeral, intended to provide access to rapidly shifting enterprise software services, to those that are designed to expose the power of the latest silicon processors – the result of billions of dollars R&D investment. The Khronos Group specializes in creating APIs that enable application developers to leverage these cutting-edge silicon acceleration technologies. You may know us from some of our flagship APIs for 3D graphics, Virtual Reality, neural networks, vision and parallel computation – Vulkan, OpenXR, OpenVX, and OpenCL. To enable the widest market growth around these enabling acceleration technologies it is vital that silicon APIs are not silo’d to proprietary hardware platforms, as that would limit widespread application portability and availability.”
Paul M. Cray, Machine Learning Specialist at APImetrics
“Four big API problems currently are discovery (how do I know there’s an API?), documentation (what does the API do and how), authorization (how do I get to use the API?) and quality/performance monitoring (does the API do what it is supposed to do). An experienced engineer can help with these issues, none are quick, easy or cheap matters to handle.
By 2030, an intelligent API ecosystem will emerge. Agents will trawl the web for APIs, monitoring and reporting on their quality. Documentation will be generated automatically by examining API endpoints, using domain-specific knowledge from smart knowledge bases.
These agents will be idiot savants. They’ll be no good at Go, but they’ll be great at frictionlessly handling complex API authentications. With plumbing between APIs handled by agents, and access and Service Level Agreements mediated through blockchain trust exchanges, people will focus on coming up with innovative answers to human problems.”
Scott Williams, Director of Software Development at Tallwave
“A well designed API can be a tremendous value-add to any product offering. We now have a baseline in which everyone understands the need for implementing APIs, but many organizations are not necessarily applying design thinking to APIs or building them for external use. Haphazardly built APIs are unfortunately quite common, and are a deciding factor for a company looking for a new platform to build on. We’re seeing this play out across several industries, namely fintech and health tech ––some of the big, traditional institutions are being surpassed by more nimble, innovative firms building thoughtfully designed APIs.
Further, new technologies like GraphQL can empower API consumers to do things previously unimagined. Like any good design, it needs to be thorough and long-lasting, which means it will probably take some elbow grease, but that pays off in the long run.”
Anton Komarov, Founder & CEO of Codesushi
“I think that the future of APIs will be connected with three approaches to software development: microservices architecture, “API first’ strategy, and atomic design methodology. APIs are at the heart of each these development methods.
All of these approaches are used to resolve critical development problems. Microservices architecture implies the creation of reusable components that should be isolated, yet still fit into the complex infrastructure of the entire system. The “API first’ strategy strives to avert chaos from the development of big systems. And, the atomic design methodology helps to create defined modular building blocks, on which the system is built, having in mind a clear picture of which blocks could be used for a particular purpose and paying attention to the detail of documentation.
In 10-15 years APIs will become the standard for all software products. Ultimately, they will determine a system’s flexibility, allowing it to respond quicker and more dynamically.”
Rich Urban, President of IFX Forum
“In technology spheres the concept of APIs is hardly new. Why all the hullaballoo these days over Open Banking APIs?
It’s mainly because the concept is acting as the standard-bearer for a significant shift in the historic relationship between banks and their customers. Open Banking? Historically such a phrase would have meant that the bank is open – 9 to 5. APIs would have meant download your transactions from our home banking website.
But security improvements in now-ubiquitous connectivity have converged with the consumer’s attitude that my data is MY data. Government regulation (in the case of PSD2 and the like) and market pressure as exemplified by consumer behavior, which includes a willingness to share credentials with third parties, have only piled on to an obvious trend.
Where is it leading? Perhaps to the recognition by banks that money is not currency, it’s data. The vault has to be re-designed.”