As the business value of APIs becomes more apparent, the need to foster the creation of a vibrant community around those APIs becomes critical. Unfortunately, all too often organizations hang an API off an application and then pretty much forget about it. What’s required is a mechanism through which developers who want to make use of that API can not only easily discover that API, but also suggest improvements.
With that goal in mind, MuleSoft today unveiled APIhub, a directory that is designed to function as a social network for developers who want to share updates and information about more than 13,000 APIs.
According to MuleSoft CTO Ross Mason, while directories for APIs such as ProgrammableWeb already exist, none of them include a social networking platform designed to foster a community around APIs. That community is necessary because existing directories are hard to navigate and the quality of APIs is often uneven. A social approach to API management will make it easier for developers to provide feedback on the quality of APIs, while simultaneously making it easier to share tips between developers and discover which APIs are the most popular. What’s needed, says Mason, is essentially a “Github for APIs.”
In fact, Mason says APIhub is specifically designed to become a lynchpin of the whole “social coding” phenomenon in which developers collaboratively create and maintain applications often regardless of their corporate affiliations.
Longer term, Mason says that MuleSoft will tighten the integration between APIhub and MuleSoft data integration software that is delivered as a service in the cloud. The more immediate concern is to foster the development of a community that in turn will create the critical mass that MuleSoft is looking to build for its cloud platform, says Mason.
It’s pretty clear that entire ecosystems in the cloud are now being built around APIs. Unfortunately, appreciation for the value of APIs differs widely across different vertical industries. Of course, part of the problem is that there is no systematic way for organizations to publish, maintain and update their APIs. APIhub provides a significant step in the right direction in terms of not only accomplishing that goal, but also providing the mechanism through which developers are encouraged to become better citizens within a larger API ecosystem.
Obviously, it’s too early to say where all this might lead one day. But if you believe that software increases in value as it gets more tightly integrated with other applications, then new platforms such as APIhub represent a mechanism through which applications can not only exponentially grow in value, but where the cost of making those integrations gets shared across a community of like-minded developers working collaboratively to attain the same goals. The business value to be derived from that kind of cooperative effort could be nothing short of priceless.