This weekend at the excellent APIDays conference in San Francisco (props to Webshell and Faber Novel for a great event!), we got the chance to think out of the box a little and present thoughts on what impact APIs might have at a wider scale. As with everyone else in the industry, it’s natural that we’re often absorbed in the day to day if drilling down to individual technical challenges or choices. Sometimes however, it’s interesting to take a step back and when we do we’re continually surprised at how broad and deep the impact of APIs is likely to be.
The presentation and a second one on how APIs are changing application development embedded below:
While the wording may seem extreme, both the continual pace of adoption of software in many industries and the adoption of APIs onto these software layers is having transformative effects. When Marc Andreessen argues “Software is eating the World”, the real way to look at this is to say:
The World is becoming “Software Enabled”
Industries from agriculture to automotive and construction are adding software control layers to both production and product. This creates the opportunity to capture more data and provide more intelligent control. APIs in turn enable this software to be addressed across networks and act in radically more intelligent and complex ways.
As Mike Amundsen argued in this talk at APIDays – building networks of nodes may be smarter than building a few silos – software enabling physical objects and giving them interfaces is the ultimate reflection of this.
Further – and here comes the “APIs a eating Software argument” the addition of “Interfaces to everything” means as software engineers we are increasingly building systems which are highly distributed – not only across machines, but across organisations. This is a radical change in the type of application being built. Slide 24 in the presentation tries to highlight this – we’ve moved from monolithic applications running in a single organisation to orchestration of functionality provided by smaller apps operated by different organisations.
APIs are enabling loosely coupled distributed applications to take the place of monolithic code bases that include everything
Making this orchestration easy and robust is still very much a work in progress – a theme also picked up by Runscope’s John Sheehan at the event. Although there are many challenges in dealing with this new world, the right building blocks are now emerging and APIs are creating a rich canvas for application developers to work with and create amazing new systems.