Back when mainframes were the only game in town and the only users were employees of the company, application programming interfaces (APIs) were developed to enable one application to talk to another by exposing some of the program’s internal functions to another program. Like device-handlers, these sets of programming instructions and standards made it much easier to perform repeated, complex tasks. In those early days, too many applications tried to do everything building out core functionality in every program. APIs were one of the first efficiencies introduced.
While no one ever stopped using them, other ‘cool tools’ came to the forefront and you heard less and less about APIs. And yet, behind the scenes and with no awareness on their part, users set off the use of APIs to validate financial information while buying merchandise or services, to move data from one program to another and to connect to a meeting from the appointment in your calendar.
With security needs and the demand to communicate with everyone and everything increasing, APIs are again coming to the forefront of the application development discussion. Since only a very limited amount of the code can be accessed, security, privacy and licensing issues are not a problem. And best of all, who really wants to look at someone else’s code in the hope of figuring out how to work together? APIs simply work.
But now, they have become even more important. As people move from using monolithic applications to using apps, we insist that they all talk to each other. We want to move from finding a restaurant on Google Maps, to reading the menu, to booking the table and then hailing a Lyft or Uber to get us there. APIs are the ‘glue’ behind these web-service ‘mash-ups.’ When we share a post or article, we’re using APIs to stay on that page and still post our interest to our friends. APIs are everywhere.
The most interesting use for developers is the ability to use APIs to modernize legacy applications. When you take an old, reliable, warhorse of an application and connect it to modern apps, you can exploit its value (and intrinsic security) while opening it up to a wider group of users. CM First’s modernization methodology has always exploited APIs where they made sense. And now, CM First’s newest partner, OpenLegacy, helps integrate back-end systems using APIs. Why toss out applications that work when you can re-energize them to meet your new challenges?
Take another look at APIs as you strive to modernize your applications.
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