Roberto Medrano

For the average business, building an Application User Interface today has more advantages than ever, and is worth the investment in time and resources.  The current landscape is generously accepting of APIs as a necessity for a business to maximize its interaction with the public upon which it depends, given the emergence of so many cloud-based applications amenable to sharing and networking.  Furthermore, the existence of shared template code and developer communities significantly decreases the time investment and out-of-pocket resources that had to be invested previously by the sponsoring company alone.  This aid has extended to the security arena, helping to shore up code to protect against security breaches – although the recent attacks on the social media giant LinkedIn reminds companies that security issues can sometimes be a concern.

The above has heightened the need to bolster security, as well as build good applications from the get-go. The businessperson doesn’t ever want to minimize the effect of too-stringent security measures that inhibit usability and crucial contributions from apt programmers modifying successive generations of the underlying code, especially because this gives her competitors a straightforward advantage: relax the security restrictions; or do better research to redirect them unobtrusively, to have access to more users. In truth; it may be even simpler than that. Here are a handful of general ideas, with a look towards the future of Application Program Interfaces, of what the initiator of one should keep in mind to form a good groundwork for user-friendliness and future improvement.

  •  -The cloud is on every techie’s mind right now; and soon will be on the tongues of the average consumer – in fact, the retail giant Amazon has already made strides towards this reality. An API with web access saves the building company money, without inhibiting the extent to which it propagates out into the world. Joining an API support group – such as SOA Software Community Manager, for example – aids this process even further, and actually extends the program’s reach.
  •  -Building a good API actually starts with finding good, relevant code that’s already out there, to build upon. There are, however, limits to this: a programmer should not use so much of the guest code that a malfunction with the host causes an irrecoverable reduction in the functionality of his own API. For example, movie theaters nationwide, instead of sending up a satellite to get the real time images needed for their own up-to-date maps, simply overlay their locations on Google Maps – after all, Google isn’t going to crash,  right?! Even so, this mantra of limited reliance on another API easily extends to less capable companies than the eponymous tech giant. A real estate site that completely employs someone else’s financial calculator code will be at a disadvantage if that site’s hosting crashes for whatever reason.

Building a good API should always be considered as a work in progress; its ultimate success can be better assured though by the manner on which the process begins. Joining a knowledgeable community of fellow developers, encouraging feedback and trial runs, have undoubtedly shown to heighten usability and user-friendliness. No matter how marvelous the inter-program interaction supported by an enterprise API, if it isn’t easy to use and widely-applicable, then it’s destined to be relegated to the dustbin – especially given that the future points toward the mobile platform, where access and user-friendliness count more than any other platform.

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