The Dearth of Web Services and a Solution

Joe McKendrick points out an uncomfortable reality about web 2.0 and published APIs, namely that there aren’t that many of them relative to the number of web sites that could be offering them. This is something that we faced at Teqlo, which of course is built on the premise that these services exist and provide functionality that is useful.

Bob, however, cites ZDNet blogging colleague Dion Hinchcliffe’s own calculations about the actual number of APIs and mashups currently in existence, which don’t suggest the revolution is at hand anytime soon. Dion had stated in a recent post, that as of December 13, 2006 there were 348 APIs registered and 1,350 mashups.

We have been in the process of building some applications as part of an effort to not just “prime the pump” with some useful apps but also learn through actual experience what it takes to build applications that are composites of third party services. In other words, put ourselves in the shoes of our customers before expecting them to do it. We hit a wall when we spec’ed out an app that scoured sales leads off popular networking sites, like Linkedin and Jigsaw. The problem was that these services don’t have APIs to take advantage of, and that was a big roadblock but fortunately for us an opportunity to try out something we had been watching for a while, OpenKapow.

With OpenKapow you can turn any website into a REST service and what that means for us is that we can turn anything into a component in our network that can be used in any our user generated mashups, such as the one in the screenshot below which features a Linkedin service component generated by OpenKapow. It was remarkably easy to generate and has been very reliable.

Joe is right to highlight the API shortage but rest assured, no pun intended, there are options for generating reliable REST services.

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5 thoughts on The Dearth of Web Services and a Solution

  1. Now that bums me out…. 🙂 just kidding.

    Actually, I think what we are doing is what the companies that originally set out to build portals wanted to do, bring life to islands of functionality.

  2. Pingback Innovation Creators
  3. I have been impressed by what Openkapow has done. It certainly opens up more opportunities for cool mashups.

    The downside is that an update to a service could easily break an openkapow implementation. Just adding an additional click to verify something throws the whole thing out of whack. Obviously, APIs are better, but not everyone thinks they need one. LinkedIn for example?

  4. Thanks for your comment on openkapow. Actually the #1 issue everyone raises before really using openkapow, is the robustness toward changes on web pages. In reality, the intelligent DOM based location mechanism for objects on a page, included in the openkapow technology, mostly makes this a complete non-issue. I know it sounds weird, but this is a fact proven by the hundred of thousand robots written by customers of Kapow as well as on the community on openkapow

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