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Veteran software development consultant Amy Reichert discusses application program interface (API) technology growth from a basic tool in software development kits to a driver of rapid application and Web and cloud services innovation.
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Developers and enterprise architects who haven't used APIs are a rare, if not nonexistent, breed today, Reichert says. APIs not only hold value for coding shortcuts, but their facility for enabling communication between applications is their golden grail.
APIs' tremendous uptake as communication interfaces is a 21st century phenomenon. Exposing data and functionality over an internal network via service interfaces, or APIs, internally was a first step. Making data and functionality -- especially application building blocks -- available in external APIs to customers, suppliers and third-party developers was revolutionary.
Handling changes in an API or API portfolio is a challenge that comes with wider use, said Reichert in her discussion of API technology issues that developers may face. For the API creator, version control can be daunting, as APIs must be frequently updated to remain viable for software and service development. Those using APIs for development must document which APIs are in use and track updates to them.