News & Insights for the AI Journey|Tuesday, June 18, 2019
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Survey: Developers Want API Standards 

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APIs, application programming interfaces, have emerged as the mortar that binds the bricks of enterprise IT. Hence, calls for greater API standardization grow louder as companies step up development of agile microservices.

The latest evidence comes from a survey of software developers released this week by software development tool vendor SmartBear. The survey of more than 3,000 software developers found that API standardization is the top priority for developers as they hustle to support microservices that structure applications as collections of loosely coupled, targeted services.

That finding confirms a similar prediction from Google, which recently highlighted the need for greater standardizationas APIs emerge as a key component of the digital economy.

Meanwhile, the SmartBear survey found that 58 percent of respondents identified standardization as their top API development challenge. The result is a 175-percent increase in adoption of the OpenAPI Specification (OAS) as part of the application software development process.

SmartBear added that 69 percent of developers polled report using OAS. “With the continued emergence of microservices, organizations can be maintaining hundreds if not thousands of different APIs within their service architecture, and the need to establish standards for how these services communicate becomes clear,” the company noted in releasing its survey results.

SmartBear, Somerville, Mass., supports a set of API development tools called Swagger. The vendor recently rolled out enhancements to those tools aimed at scaling API development using OAS. The intent is to help developers get a handle on proliferating APIs and “enforce common standards and rules across all internal and external-facing APIs from a single centralized dashboard,” the company said Wednesday (Feb. 6).

The Open API spec was released by the Linux Foundation in November 2015 with a focus on the Swagger format initially used to provide metadata for RESTful APIs. Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) was among the initial contributors to the API initiative along with IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).

The SmartBear survey also supports Google’s prediction of greater standardization around emerging technologies like GraphQL, an open-source data query language for APIs developed by Facebook (NASDAQ: FB). GraphQL is seen as a promising framework for delivering reusable services and APIs.

“We’re seeing GraphQL emerge as an API gateway for microservices,” said Bill Doerrfeld of Nordic APIs.

API standardization also is being driven by GRPC, a Google-backed open-source framework designed to enable clients and server applications to communicate “transparently.” The goal is making it easier to build “connected systems.” A building block of the de facto standard Kubernetes cluster orchestrator, GRPC is seen as an emerging option for delivering core business applications.

The SmartBear API survey also found that 76 percent of organization polled are developing both internal and “public-facing” APIs. API teams use an average of five different development tools. Meanwhile, most respondents said they have an API testing strategy in place and three-quarters said they monitor APIs once they enter production.

 

 

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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