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The rise of context, interest and intent APIs

APIs are a big part of the future of the web ecosystem. To draw a parallel with the human body we could say that APIs are becoming the nervous (or even neuronal) system of the web. APIs are like nerves transporting information from different sensors (other apps and services) so that the brain can make a decision.

There is clearly a lot of different APIs and different APIs category as you can see in this Programmableweb screenshot .

There will be even more categories in the future. But the idea of that blog post is to categorize the API ecosystem differently.

First we can categorize API around what they do, just like 3scale did with 3 main categories:

-        Logic APIs : provide a service, an algorithm to transform data into something else.  Google translate, or Google goggles are good example. You send them data (a picture, a text) and they analyze and send you back a translation or the name of a product. A payment API could also go in that category as it provides a series of process on demand.

-        Data APIs : this is the largest family that can fit a lot of API. They just provide raw data that are exploited by apps, or by other API. We’ve seen emerging recently the “data supermarket” : Factual, Infochimps, DataPublica in France, Microsoft Azure Data Market Place are marketplaces where data providers will come to give or sell sets of data, or allow users to query datasets, mostly through API. Open Data website by government are an example of data market specialized in public dataset. PFM services could be an example of API that provide a lot of data about a user consuming habits. Those supermarkets are not yet one single API but we can see that coming. In the near future: if you want data, you’ll call one of those datasupermarket API and select in drill down menu which datatsets you need and you’ll pay according to the freshness are granularity of the data.

-        Presentation  API : provide the layer of visualization that can put the data and algorithm APIs in tune.  Google map is a good example of presentation layer to display geo data. Dipity is another exemple : it allow you to show inormation on a timeline.

I’ll try to split the different type of API in categories that would be the most common needs for most the apps developed. To continue with the body analogy, we could say it is the main nervous system.

First you got the context APIs : this is the most common API you will find, giving information about who, what, when and where a user is. Those contextual informations provided by APIs on specific services will influence the app being used. We can slplit those “Context APIs” in sub-categories.

  • Who APIs : facebook is the obvious one, even though twitter, gmail and others are also doing a good job at it. The developer will use one of the other according to what he needs more for his app : virality and social graph he will Lire la suite »

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