Today’s concept of API is at once too broad and too narrow. Developers tend to take the acronym literally, seeing it specifically as a programming interface designed to be used by another application. Meanwhile, business decision-makers view APIs as some cutting-edge technology that will make their businesses run better, improve the customer experience or maybe do something similar to what the “cloud” does.
To prevent it from becoming a confusing and ultimately meaningless concept, I wish there was a way to expand the meaning of API beyond its originating acronym. Like it or not, the term API has become an umbrella of sorts for any technology-based transaction. This transaction can range from something basic, such as integrating Google Maps into an iOS weather app, to something more involved, like building a library on top of a competitor’s library used for ordering ebooks, so that web designers search for relevant ebooks from booksellers like O’Reilly and SitePoint without having to slog through virtual booksellers like All Romance eBooks.
For developers, this “new API” translates into viewing the literal “Application Programming Interface” as just one of many tools that can serve to extend a business’s capabilities or bridge a specific gap between two compatible services. If a traditional API or service doesn’t do it, then an SDK, iFrame, scriptlet, single sign-on technologies like OpenID or OAuth, or some combination thereof may be the answer.
Perhaps, this decision is self-serving on our part, given that we launched Atmosphere as an “Enterprise Ready API Management” solution. But something like “API, SDK, scriptlet, etc Management” is not quite as elegant as a tech buzzword like “API Management,” although it does begin to touch on the wealth of technologies we can manage to help deliver such capabilities.
Moreover, this more inclusive concept of API gives our developer community more freedom in crafting effective solutions for their businesses and end users, now that they no longer feel limited to just one tool.
Can you think of a better term than “API Management”? Let’s beat the analysts to the punch and coin a new phrase. Tell us what you would rather call it.