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August 2014 22 Building Successful Web APIs The syntax of APIs matter much less than their discoverability and the ease with which developers can figure out how to use them effectively, as this great guide from 2012 shows. A s the demand for connectivity between applications, de- vices, and platforms grows, so too does the need for Web- based interfaces to connect them together. Not too long ago, these interfaces were called "Web services" and they were often the key component of a Service Oriented Ar- chitecture (SOA) initiative. But, with increasing frequency, the terms "Web API," "API," and "API program" are now being used instead. So, what is the difference? For many in the technology field, a Web service implies the usage of the SOAP messaging format, while an API implies that any format other than SOAP will be used for mes- saging. Further to this, some believe that SOA programs live behind the firewall and support internal connectivity, while API programs are focused on outwards facing integration. The colloquial defini- tions that have evolved for these terms are interesting to note, but it is important to realize that Web APIs still align with the broader, commonly held definition of an SOA. Ultimately, APIs enable the SOA goals of business and technical alignment, increased compo- nent reuse, and a higher level of connectedness. The key difference between the SOA world and the API domain is philosophical. Architects who talk about SOA are often concerned primarily with the exposure and cataloging of service libraries over the network. Whereas architects who talk about APIs will often em- phasize a developer-centric view of integration. It is this focus on the usability of an interface that has radically changed the way Web interfaces are designed and exposed. Why Does Usability Matter? The various API business drivers can be reduced into two important By Ronnie Mitra [ VAULT ] Table of Contents @mitraman Previous Next Previous Next Download Download Register Register Subscribe Subscribe Previous Next Previous Next From the Vault

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