Recommended Article: APIs are delivering on their promise (SD Times: Software Development News)
Software Development Times has an interesting article on about APIs:
If you believe a recent report from analysis firm Gartner, in just two years, we'll be overrun by citizen developers (normal, untrained computer users) building 25% of new business applications. A major facilitator for these newbies? Some have posited that cloud-based API mash-ups would be so easy to use, toddlers would soon be selling mobile apps. But now, San Francisco's hottest Platform-as-a-Service company, Salesforce (which recently acquired Heroku), is running toward developers, not away from them. And a key to success, said ProgrammableWeb founder John Musser, is the developer — not user — experience. (APIs are delivering on their promise - SD Times: Software Development News)
In other words, there's definitely a trend toward more APIs, for both developers and non-developers. Both will leverage APIs to create sophisticated sites and applications. As an analogy, consider how many people use plugins with Wordpress to leverage advanced functionality for their sites. APIs are a similar step but more geared towards developers rather than end-users.
The article also mentions that a good API needs the following:
Too often, an API is passed over because its community pages are empty and support is nonexistent. Developers do want hand-holding when they use your API. That includes not only easy signup, but also guides, searchable reference materials, SDKs, pricing and clear terms of service. There has to be a community: a forum, blog, social media presence, e-mail list and an app gallery. There has to be evangelism and great support. And all of it can feed back into the API.
I'm putting my bets on APIs as a mainstream trend for the future of tech. Providing documentation for APIs will be a main challenge and need. When I look at API documentation examples, the format and approach seems to vary pretty significantly.