VP Innovation at Axway, Co-founder at Vordel

Mark O'Neill

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The API First Manifesto

With the UK elections coming up, and the US 2016 election gaining momentum, manifestos are in the news. In the API world, we also see the API First approach similarly gathering momentum. I recently had a good discussion with Alex Sword of CBR about what "API First" means. It's part of a larger article about security and devices. Here are the three recommendations I picked out in the article about API First:

1. Treat your API like a first-class citizen of your architecture
This is something which Accenture's Kevin Kohut has spoken about at Axway's API Workshop events and at our US Connections customer event. Kevin recommended treating an API like a product, with a name, a roadmap, and a designated product manager. Having someone whose responsibility it is to manage the API is important, because it reduces the risks that the API will be changed in a way which breaks existing client usage.

2. Build the API first, not as an afterthought as part of a mobile app project
API First means literally building the API first. All too often, ad hoc APIs are built just to get data to and from a mobile app, which is built first ("mobile first"). These ad hoc APIs can multiply and become a nightmare to manage. If you built the API first, and manage it as a product (see Recommendation 1 above), then when your mobile app developers need to access data then they can be directed to use the API.

3. Don't tie your API only to mobile
Another way API First is different from "mobile first" is that when you design your API first, you can design it in a client-neutral manner. This means that it's not only for mobile clients. APIs have traditionally been associated with mobile, but now we're seeing other types of clients, such sensors and wearable devices, come to the fore. By all means, you can design "Experience APIs" in front of the core API layer, to tailor the API UX to specific types of clients (e.g. adding pagination for mobile clients). But, the underlying API is designed first: another example of "API First".

Check out the whole article here:

And contact Axway if you'd like an API First shirt :-)

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More Stories By Mark O'Neill

Mark O'Neill is VP Innovation at Axway - API and Identity. Previously he was CTO and co-founder at Vordel, which was acquired by Axway. A regular speaker at industry conferences and a contributor to SOA World Magazine and Cloud Computing Journal, Mark holds a degree in mathematics and psychology from Trinity College Dublin and graduate qualifications in neural network programming from Oxford University.