Release your applications inner API. Please.
Posted on Oct 6, 2008
I have recently been involved in talking to a local chicago entity about their unofficial API. It has been fun and deserves a blog entry of its own. However, this is not that blog entry - this blog entry is about mashups and the not so public APIs they often create.
In the past couple years i have constantly been tearing apart webapps. Either because I wearing my developer hat at work or because i am rocking on something at home. I have always been trying to figure out what goes on behind the scenes and wondering if i coudl use that to do something cool.
A couple weeks ago i decided to figure out what powered the CTA Bustracker Google Maps mash up and was able to expose the "hidden” api that powered the mashup. In a conversation I had with Dan x O’Neil about the unofficial API I was able to expose - he asked a question about mashups and APIs. It led me to rant about how there is so much untapped APIs out on the internet currently powering mashups, and other rich internet appliances. These APIs are not documented, are unofficial and will of course change. But think of the data and functionality that could come from all these mashups and startups who are building an API for internal use but could release it and empower their users to build something neat.
If you have built an application recently that has endpoints that is returning JSON for js frontend work, or is integrating with google maps, or is exposing endpoints for fun - PLEASE, please document it a bit, throw an API link on your site and let some enterprising and bored nerds build something on the thing you made. Don’t try to imagine how someone would use your endpoints - but expect to be surprised.
I need to do this with threadless - we built it to be very easy to break down and integrate into other peoples sites (image urls, etc). But, there is a secret API that we should be releasing, documenting and letting people use. Stay tuned.