The API has become a core part of the modern internet, and it seems that more companies than ever now offer third-party developers access to their data and services.
While there are plenty of commercial options when it comes to easy management of your APIs, creating those APIs in the first place could be a lot quicker and easier than the months it can currently take. That’s where a new startup called Instant API comes in.
The idea behind Instant API is that you can create and publish an API in minutes. Simply hook up your database, determine the endpoints and let InstantAPI do the rest, including the all-important documentation.
The screenshots in this article were created by Instant API to show the steps needed to create a ‘TNW API’.
“We want Instant API to be the first place that developers go when they need to create an API, or have a need for external data,” says founder Scott Ling. “Fundamentally we believe that every successful company, organization or person should be able to share their data quickly, easily and in a way that makes sense for them. Making APIs easy to create and share is one strategy to enable this goal.”
The idea for the service came from Ling’s background in agile software development, where he often found APIs crucial to initial building and scaling. “Building these APIs always took longer than I expected. I knew that we could make it orders of magnitude easier and less expensive to build and operate a production-ready API.”
It’s pretty surprising that no-one’s done this before, despite the success of companies like Layer7 and Intel’s Mashery in offering management services for existing APIs. Priced from $30 per year, Instant API includes realtime documentation, the ability to charge for using the API and client code generation for API calls, plus the ability to monetize APIs by charging other developers for usage.
When it comes to connecting up to databases, Instant API supports MongoDB, MySQl, Riak, Redis and PostGreSQL, and integrates with hosted database-as-a-service offerings like MongoLab and MongoHQ, Cloudant and Redis Labs.
Instant API has been through two accelerator programs – Acceleprise in Washington DC, and Tech Wildcatters in Dallas, Texas, and I met Ling when he was on the Ignite100 accelerator in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK last year, working on a completely different project. While ‘entrepreneurs who surf from accelerator to accelerator’ can raise red flags with some investors, it appears that he’s come up with something compelling here.
What will developers make of it?
While Instant API certainly seems impressive, we’ll reserve final judgment until developers have got their hands on it. Coders I spoke to while preparing this article pointed out that data quality is always an important consideration, and while writing the API may take minutes with this new service, getting your data in order beforehand can still be a real chore.
Ling responds to this by saying “due to the way developers build APIs using our platform, a lot of the data structuring before building an API isn’t needed as much. It is very dependent on the type of data.”
One developer I spoke to told me that he can build an API for personal use in just 30 minutes, but Ling notes that Instant API is a mass-market offering, “enabling everyone to build an API to share their data and services,” not to mention make money from them too.
The service is being rolled out gradually, and the first 50 TNW readers to register with the code IATNWEAB will be added to the current access list. If you don’t sign up quickly enough, a further 1,000 signups using the code will be given priority access once the platform is open.
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