To those already involved in the API industry, the description format called OpenAPI Specification, or OAS, may be a familiar term. But those who are not yet acquainted with the nitty-gritty of APIs may find the mention of OAS a little daunting. What does it matter what description format can be used with an API? And how does that directly contribute to individual enterprise development?
The truth is, OpenAPI is both simpler and more helpful than API outsiders think. The technology is responsible for great leaps in API development, including a design-first perspective and extensive API tooling. All of these work in service of businesses in the digital age, where APIs are used in everything from product searches to cashless transactions.
This article will track the evolution of the OpenAPI Specification and examine its role in the business API industry. After reading, you will learn the value of OAS and of using a complete API toolkit for teams and enterprise. Here’s an article on OpenAPI, its business value, and what both the IT and entrepreneurial sector can expect of the technology in the future.
OpenAPI: A Brief History
OpenAPI was first conceived as the Swagger Specification in 2012, by former Wordnik engineer Tony Tam. The first formal specification document, written to be independent of Swagger implementation, was released in 2014. In 2015, API industry leader SmartBear Software acquired interests in Swagger’s intellectual property. Later that year, the specification was donated by SmartBear to put up a brand-new governance body, called the OpenAPI Initiative. Thus, the OpenAPI Specification as we know it was born.
From 2015 onwards, OAS gained prominence as the de facto industry standard for describing APIs, many of which are used for business. The OpenAPI description format allowed for entire business APIs to be described, inclusive of the following:
- the API’s available endpoints
- the API’s operations on each endpoint
- each of the API’s operation parameters (input and output per operation)
- the API’s authentication methods
Among other qualities, it is celebrated being language-agnostic, adaptable, and easy for API developers to learn. The technology has a ripple effect: since OAS enhances the developers’ capabilities, it also enhances the output—and therefore, the viability—of the API client.
How did OAS Change the Game for Modern APIs?
There are several reasons why OpenAPI Specification has changed the landscape of modern API design. For one, OAS is a format that can be understood by both humans and machines. That means that it’s easy for both human developers and the computers to get a good grasp of what the API can do. The end result is quicker, more efficient, and more masterful work done on clients’ APIs.
For another, OAS enables access to a number of standard and customized toolchains that can auto-generate API code. Those that are built around Swagger-codegen, which has a powerful template-driven engine, can use OAS definitions to launch stubs, SDKs, and API documentation. Thus, clients can expect their APIs to be fashioned out of consistent, reliable, and streamlined code thanks to OAS.
Lastly, OpenAPI is backed by a large pool of talent in the API industry. Some of the sector’s top minds are part of the OpenAPI community, and they actively contribute to the specification’s improvement. API designers will be able to meet people who share their vision of designing great APIs with great toolkits. Their skill and knowledge with OAS ensure growth for the API’s clients, the individual enterprises.
What’s the Future Like for Client Businesses with OpenAPI?
The future looks promising for businesses investing in API design with OAS. OAS leads the business sector closer to an “open world” kind of approach. The development of their API products will follow a less rabbit-holed, more extensible kind of ethos.
Better API technologies like OAS pave the way for better API end-products. Such products are what client businesses need in order to foster customer engagement and trust in the peak of the digital era.
If you own a business that’s contracting with an API developer, don’t hesitate to learn more about OpenAPI Specification. Doing so will leave you hopeful about how API technology can benefit your enterprise.