Application Programming Interface (API) is the term to describe a way for computers to talk to other computers in an automated fashion. Imagine your accounting software talking to your payroll software to cut checks, pay taxes, and facilitate 401k matching — that would be done via an API. APIs open up a world of unbelievable power due to the ability to control other systems as well as consume data, and vice versa.
The famous Paul Graham of Y Combinator sent a tweet recently saying an API is self-serve business development:
Business development is traditionally slow, labor intensive, and often ineffective. With APIs acting as self-serve business development, companies can start integrating services or data from other providers and mashing it up with their own functionality. This way, they can build real enterprise value and let the market decide faster than humans trying to work out deals with other humans. APIs provide unbelievable power.
The next time someone talks about building a new feature or developing their own data source, do some Google searching and see if an API is already out there — you might be surprised.
What else? What are your thoughts on APIs?