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O'Reilly Network: Meerkat: An Open Service API

May 11, 2000, 22:14 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rael Dornfest)

"You want to know where the future is? No, not plastics. The future, my friends, is Web APIs. I'm not talking here about Web applications (or "Weblications") themselves, but their public interfaces, those parts of themselves they choose to share."

"An API (application program interface) is the public interface provided by an application for communication with external applications and programmers. This interface can be as simple as a set of supported parameters/arguments or as advanced as specific services (also known as methods or functions) that may be called remotely."

"There's been considerable attention of late given to the wonders and power of Open Source. Not much is said, however, about the array of Open Services out there that are every bit as valuable as source code. Brian Behlendorf, President of the Apache Software Foundation and Founder and CTO of Collab.Net, a company that provides tools and services for Open Source development, writes: "I think it's fine to have a world where open and closed source software speak - by far the most important thing is that the protocols and APIs be stable and open and free from encumberance, that the software source code is open is secondary." (Editor's note: Collab.Net is affiliated with O'Reilly & Associates.) Open APIs are the lifeblood of the Web developer. Whether such interfaces are simply a side effect of the way in which the application is written or intentionally left open for public use, you'd be amazed at how they're used."

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