December 11, 2012
MuleSoft, the integration platform for both SaaS and on-premise applications, is today announcing the launch of APIhub, a public repository and community resource for API discovery. The idea of the hub is to give both application developers, and enterprise customers the ability to find and use a wide selection of APIs and also the documentation for those individual APIs. APIhub exposes the existing APIs from MuleSofts intergation product, Anypoint alongside the APIs from other providers. It’s kind of an information hub to focus developers on the use of APIs. APIhub offers:
- A catalog of APIs, both open and closed
- An ontologyfor browsing APIs by category, as well as search capabilities
- Documentation and testing capabilities; for example, allowing developers to pass parameters to the API using the Web-based console, with real-time visibility into the results
- Community content, including discussion forums, tips and tricks, ratings, code samples and client libraries
- Capabilities to follow APIs and be notified about version updates and changes that impact applications
Essentially a one stop shop for the consumption of APIs. On the other side of the house, Mulesoft believes the platform will be valuable to API providers by offering:
- A platform for driving discovery and adoption of APIs, including features for publishing the descriptive profile, detailed specifications and technical documentation
- Simple import and transformation from various API specification formats to the standardized APIhub format for easy consumption
- Platform capabilities for simple creation of interactive documentation
- Infrastructure for driving community engagement, including user ratings, comments and code samples
I get the value of an API library and central repository, but I question whether it is best placed in the hands of a company that derives commercial benefit from the integration of applications using those APIs. It seems to me that the APIhub is intended primarily to drive revenue for Mulesoft’s integration and API management solutions and, as such, is somewhat conflicted given the very community-minded messaging around the launch. It’s also important to note that the Programmable Web, the API hub founded by John Musser provides this service too, although I’ll admit that the acquisition of Programmable Web by Alcatel Lucent and it’s API arm somewhat introduced similar conflicts to the relationship between the hub and API users.
APIs are unquestionably the lingua franca for gluing together disparate services and applications and APIs will only continue to rise both in number and consumption levels (see the graph above, appropriately published by programmable Web). As APIs grow in importance however it is critical that we ensure the commercialization of those APIs, and the services around them is open and honest. While APIhub is undoubtedly a valuable service, I have some concerns about its independence and long term intentions.