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The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of APIs

Or, stuff we've learned the hard way while building APIs at NPR. This is a presentation I gave to the DC API meetup on 1/30/13

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The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of APIs

  1. 1. TheWHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, HOW* of Building APIs… (* not in that order) Javaun Moradi, NPR @javaun
  2. 2. (This slide isn’t a “W” or “H”)• NPR Open API launched in 2008• Try it: or• Powers all of NPR’s mobile, web, cars apps• 100+ stations retrieve content & add their own
  3. 3. (Last background slide for a while)NPR’s APIs• Stories• Stations• Schedules• Streams• Library data• Transcripts• …
  4. 4. WHY are APIs so sexy?
  5. 5. APIs are about the opportunities you don’t miss.
  6. 6. WHY do we love APIs?• Keep pace with your product needs• Innovate quickly• Reuse, don’t reinvent• Serendipity
  7. 7. WHEN is it time to get an API?• Mobile aspirations?• Data/services useful in more than one place?• Departments need to share/collaborate?• Decouple your systems?• Be more nimble?• Share your service (free or for profit)?
  8. 8. WHAT do you build?
  9. 9. Smart small(you can add more later)
  10. 10. Build for actual user problems (Don’t “liberate” data unless that’s your mission)
  11. 11. Intuitive and self-documenting (developers hate to read)
  12. 12. Drink your own… (be your first customer)
  13. 13. Build something imperfect. (Be ok with that.)
  14. 14. WHAT should you measure?• Speed, for starters• Usage is great for management• Do you monetize your API?• Numbers don’t tell you value• Do you measure other tools?
  15. 15. WHO do you want to be? (Big IT vs. Leading the business)
  16. 16. WHO do you build it for?
  17. 17. WHERE should your API live?• One size • Sunlight Labs • AP • World Bank • Open NPR API • NPR API we use public private • Twilio • Google Custom • Netflix
  18. 18. HOW: DIY vs. Vendor
  19. 19. HOW do you support it?
  20. 20. Now what? (Hang on tight…)