The Inevitable Future Of Coding Is Here
The dawn of a new era in software engineering is upon us, and it doesn’t care about old conventions. API’s, or the rules governing how programs interact, is set to turn the software world upside down for years to come.
When the CEO of Intel Brian Kzanich spoke on the Internet Of Things (Intel’s philosophy on the next step in the evolution of the Internet) at the annual Developers Forum in August, he referenced the new era being brought about by API’s. It’s known as API-first design, and it puts forward a huge opportunity for developers who are ready to adapt, as well as a huge threat for developers and companies who are not.
If you thought Intel was the only juggernaut realizing the value of API’s, think again. IBM recently joined in on the API bandwagon with IBM Bluemix, which is a software that allows companies to find out how other developers around the world are using their APIs. This then allows said companies to design around that feedback. Furthermore, Oracle extended its API management suite back in June to accommodate even more users and capitalize from the boom in global interest on the subject. While these three companies have been making major moves towards API-first design, other major players have been preparing for this future for years.
Usually, when new products are being designed, designers are asked to first develop the user interface screens and demonstrate how the experience will look. This approach has been extremely popular amongst developers for many reasons, primarily in that the emergence of touchscreens gave rise to a new generation of computing all together and changed the way people interact with hardware completely.
Apple and Google have both proven that user friendliness is a top priority in the market. Furthermore, the emergence of ‘virtual reality’ platforms proves that people are constantly pushing to explore novel ways to experience content. As devices rapidly increase in numbers, however, system-to-system interactions will begin to dominate people-to-system interactions. In other words, systems don’t really have a need for pretty interfaces, what they need is well-defined contracts. Systems need API’s.
When it comes to mobile, dozens of different interfaces come to mind. From web to client-server, the options can be overwhelming. The only way to gain control is to focus on the API layer and ignore the other interfaces. Take Netflix as an example– a video streaming service with an astonishingly simple user interface is able to scale to over 63 million users simultaneously accessing their video library from hundreds of different devices all over the globe. How do they make this happen? Excellent API’s.
The Internet of Things philosophy is driving this paradigm shift by and large, with this proliferation of devices sealing the deal on a trend that is already gaining major power. Now that mobile devices officially outnumber people, the systems that we use to connect them have become ridiculously complex. API’s form the foundation of these connections– the proverbial mortar between our hardware. This complexity has provided the perfect conditions for a major shift away from ‘full-stack engineering’ and towards building pieces on top of layers that are already there within larger digital ecosystems.
Apple and Google have been steadily driving this API-centric future with the emergence of interconnected products, such as the Apple Watch and Google’s self driving cars. These technologies highlight the importance of API’s in our daily lives at this point. When the smartest people in the game get behind something new, it’s wise to pay attention. While computers and screens probably aren’t going away, it’s impossible to ignore the new world of opportunity opening up to developers.
Developers and companies who fail to adapt to this API centric future run the very real risk of decreasing their job security and devaluing their skills in the eyes of the industry. Startups are especially at risk, with their competitive edge being robbed of them if they fail to embrace the change. Ultimately, if you or your company aren’t living on the edge of innovation, you will become pieces of an already shrinking pie.
As our world grows ever more interconnected, new and incredible possibilities emerge. Driverless cars, connected devices, and advances in health technologies are just a glimpse of the new frontier that API-first design will provide. In order for these innovations to occur, they must be built on the most solid of foundations. This entails starting the system design at the foundational layer– the API layer.
Source: Tech CrunchTags: API, api-first design, apple, Coding, developer, Google, ibm, intel, programmer, Programming, user interface