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Top 5 Trends in API

Application Programming Interface(API) can help your organization maintain its competitive edge. Check out these top trends on API that will evolve in 2021 and beyond.
Codvo developer managing API

The fourth annual State of API Integration report indicated that 83% of IT leaders consider application programming interface(API) integrations critical to their business strategy. As a result, its demand continues to snowball and presents a more significant shift and opportunities to introspect new API trends.

1. API Technologies

API has the same underlying protocols; one is HTTP as its primary medium. Another is the Representational State Transfer (REST), which is still the sought-after architectural pattern governing its design.

However, the latest API technological trends indicate a shift towards better protocols and newer architectural patterns. Here are some API technologies to look into:

HTTP 3 

HTTP 3 is the de facto application layer protocol for APIs. Although there were enhancements from HTTP versions 1 to 2, it was not enough.

Hence, there is an upcoming standardization effort for HTTP 3. However, the caveat is that the existing transport protocol, TCP, will be replaced with QUIC. This protocol offers a better online experience.

WebSub

WebSub is a distributed protocol based on the Publish-Subscribe mechanism for communication between publishers across their multiple targets. This protocol is becoming relevant due to the demand for building event-driven APIs. Its relevance is known mostly for SaaS-built applications that are data-driven and notification centric in nature.

GraphQL

GraphQL may change the landscape as it defines how APIs interact using a query and manipulation language. API developers always find fault with REST that requires multiple requests. With GraphQL, it can fetch data in a compound form with only one API request. It works well with event-driven APIs. 

2. API Management

Codvo Client Manager use API Management

To effectively manage APIs, API management products are on the rise. These products focused on the four pillars of digital experience monitoring―availability, reachability, performance, and reliability. 

These four pillars made the API management market to gain traction. Also, it is primarily due to the demand for stringent control on APIs. Hence, API management products are on the rise with components that provide mechanisms and tools to support the API development community.

On the other hand, there is also a growing trend to automate the API management processes.

Here are some driving forces that fuel automation and hyper customization of API management in the future.

Scaling the API Economy

Most organizations use third-party APIs that have a direct impact on operations, revenue, and digital experience. API scaling includes extensive monitoring of internal and external API performance​. Therefore, access to data across diverse teams and departments with integrations and API calls should be appropriately managed. 

Scaling also demands API testing capabilities. From a developer's point of view, it's no longer about basic single URL or browser uptime monitoring. It simply can't provide insights into critical API components anymore. Requirements now include application extensibility, allowing disparate systems to connect and exchange data securely. 

Adaptive API Governance

There will be an unprecedented shift from static to adaptive API governance. In essence, API governance is setting up processes and policies to manage the API life cycle. These are done statically, but with the growing demand for APIs, processes (rules and exceptions) are changing. 

Adaptive API governance devises appropriate styles for different business types. Remarkably, it uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to adjust its policies based on API usage patterns and historical data.   

Custom API Platforms

The demand of the market is gearing towards custom API platforms. For instance, a problem concerning data signal processing and machine learning may require combining the best APIs that individually perform image recognition and data processing.

The software industry will witness more innovative ways of merging, aggregating or reusing the existing API semantics to build new APIs. This approach doesn't necessitate rewriting the underlying logic or deploying the API afresh.

API Design

The most talked-about API design trend is Real-Time Data Synchronization (RTDS). It allows fast physical delivery across a vast global distribution network for services. It caters to the highly-demanding nature of our society today and makes online transactions faster. 

Real-time data synchronization leverages change in notifications across file systems and network-attached storage. With on-prem installation options and infinite scalability, API providers eliminate lag to bring real-time data synchronization.

Therefore, it is easy for enterprises to go digital.

Moreover, with built-in real-time data access, organizations have a robust set of automation tools that will boost business growth in the future.

3. API Development

An on-going coding for API Development

API development is getting progressively easier due to the standardization and tooling improvements. Despite the demand for solving complex problems, the underlying architecture and hosting infrastructure are standardized, leading to quick development and deployment. 

Open API Specification Version 3 (OAS3 )

The OAS version 3 simplifies the API specification with additional security features and reusable components. These improvements allow the API community to move towards a homogeneous API development tool chain.

Homogenous API development offers better control over the entire API lifecycle. There will be a significant improvement in design, development, publishing, operationalization, and consumption to APIs' retirement.

Low Code API Development

Low code or no-code development is now conquering the API landscape. Technical management and system administrators are exploring API business logic development with a low code platform. It allows another option of building APIs without getting into the nitty-gritty of coding.

These types of platforms fast track the design and deployment of APIs, which help automate business processes.

Also, low code platforms provide quick building of UI interfaces and API deployment workflows. Some organizations find this approach intuitive to use and suitable for non-coding employees.

Event-Driven APIs

Most APIs are getting out of the two-way synchronous communication mechanism between a client and a server. Yes, we describe the traditional API mechanism, but the market sees an increasing demand for data-driven processes. Subsequently, APIs have adopted newer communication patterns to cater to building data-driven and notification centric applications.

Though REST architecture is still viable in maintaining an application's state, event-driven APIs change the old ways of polling the servers for data or state changes. A server can now send asynchronous events back to the client. This includes any state change that the client might be interested in. 

Service Mesh

Both huge companies and startups adopt the use of APIs. These are considered as part of their product or service ecosystem. Not only that, but it also offers a suite of related APIs. Too often, the underlying business logic and semantics are almost the same across these suites of APIs.

Hence, the consistency in the API behavior is now in question.To solve this problem, service mesh architecture was introduced to help API developers and infrastructure teams. It helps deploy internal bridges between the underlying micro services environment that hosts the APIs. As a result, API developers can tap into standard functionality hosted on an internal service or another API.

This approach promotes better code reusability and modularity of the entire API suite. Service mesh plays a significant change in the API development process to counter API's underlying technical complexities. This new approach to API development will address the demand for an excellent end-user experience.

4. API Testing

API testing is not the usual software testing. Although it is a good practice to involve traditional software testing, testers should go beyond the different API parameters that may affect the overall developer experience. 

Developer Experience for APIs

Great API experience requires good documentation and ease of use. Since most API consumers are developers, it is essential to provide these items to increase API adoption. 

A good developer experience for APIs revolves around intuitiveness, structuring, and consistency.

  • An intuitive API promotes a fast turnaround time for developers to get started.
  • Well-structured API documentation is easy to follow. 
  • A consistent approach in API calls handling leads to excellent readability and code robustness. 

Testing for Newer Architectural Patterns

As mentioned, other underlying architectures are going to change the API landscape. Although there are no indications that the REST architecture will be phased out soon; however, the trend is gearing towards asynchronous API operations. This is primarily due to the rise of event-driven and streaming APIs.

With that, it is significant that API testers need to develop the testing skills for asynchronous APIs. To help this out, the Async API consortium is working in that direction. It is a consortium that helps create standardization for API asynchronous communication. It adopts standards and protocols from the Open API specifications. 

5. API Usage

APIs started as data collectors before but continue to evolve and are now spearheading data-driven applications. In the myriad of data-centric applications, APIs even serve as custodians of data for a more extensive social engagement.

Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter leverage their API to integrate with other platforms. Hazard hub has a comprehensive API that helps insurance platforms get information about property risks.

To narrow it down, here are some usages of API in the modern software industry landscape. 

Crowdsourced APIs

APIs were designed to work within an organization's internal data. This data can be consumed by the organization itself or can cater to third-party entities. However, as the need to operate a vast and diverse external data corpus rises, another API usage came up.

Organizations adopt crowdsourcing to allow API consumers to contribute to data. For instance, building a machine learning model relies on API consumers and users to provide data to create a reliable model. This approach gained traction as it is seen to help share data through APIs for the benefit of the public.

Crowdsourced APIs gained momentum because of the recent pandemic. APIs in the pandemic time all have the same goal, to provide related analytics, statistical data, and other research findings. 

Inter-technology Integration

APIs serve as the unifying agent for digital transformation initiatives as they play a critical role in integrating disparate systems that support different technologies. AI and IoT are on the rise, and APIs are seen to leverage these technologies.

For instance, APIs play a significant role with the various steps in driven process automation like Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Similarly, APIs together, with IoT, also integrate hardware assets.

API doesn't only elicit the adoption of newer technologies and architecture patterns; APIs make inter-technological integration possible. 

API as a Service

API as a Service works by allowing third-party and custom API interaction. With the fast-growing segment of businesses that need Software-as-a-Service(SaaS), it also means that they need APIs.

SaaS are perfect alternatives to eliminate intrinsic pricey software costs, including the burdens of on-site hardware, software, and IT operations.

API as a Service also means consumers are given upgraded experiences. For example, some providers of SaaS use metered upfront billing but help developers build massively scalable infrastructure. This means that API is a mere technology and a factor on which modern enterprise technology is built. 

Your Next Steps

Technology leaders should consider these API trends to cope up with the demand of the market. Here are some next steps to consider:

  • Present an assessment of all API used starting from in-house APIs, public cloud APIs to third-party APIs.
  • Determine the operational impact of these trends to the solutions or workflow, whether they provide support, may cause the APIs to fail or may totally phase out the existing API infrastructure.
  • Create a risk assessment with a backup plan for an API trend that presents an operational risk. This is important, especially for operational continuity, should the original API be phased out. 
  • Consider all the methods and interdisciplinary approaches of various API standards. For instance, if your organization is gearing towards AI, machine learning, and its subset, deep learning, expect extensive data analytics and explicit programming to produce more complex outputs to interpret.
  • Create a plan gearing your organization towards new formation and growth of API ecosystems that lead to open API frameworks. It uses open data that allows organizations across the globe to be not confined to certain regulations and compliance.

Lastly, although organizations are gravitating towards these trends, this doesn't mean that everyone will be successful in it. Implement these steps and place all the best practices in mind to create an API infrastructure with robust interoperability.

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