There is a pricing comparison between 33 separate screen capture APIs halfway down the page on this interesting piece about how to choose the right screen capture service. This type of comparison should exist across every business sector being impacted by APIs, as well as new ones emerging to introduce entirely new digital resources for use in our desktop, web, mobile, device, and network applications. Sadly, right now these types of machine readable, let alone human readable lists do not exist across the sector. Assembling these types of comparisons takes a lot of time and energy, and aren’t always possible in a special API snowflake of a world where seemingly similar APIs are actually very different beasts—sometimes intentionally, but usually unintentionally.
I have had a machine readable schema for defining API pricing for almost five years now. I’ve profiled common resources like email, SMS, and others, but ultimately haven’t had the resources to invest in the work at the levels needed. I know how much work goes into establishing an exhaustive list of APIs in any business sector as well as finding a price, and defining the access tiers for each individual API provider. I wish I had more resources to invest in profiling of APIs, but also profiling down to this level of detail where each of the individual API resources they offer have some sort of semantic vocabulary applied, and a machine readable defining of the pricing and on-boarding required for each API provider. This is how we are going to get to the API economy we all like to fantasize about, where we can automatically discover, on-board, pay for, and switch between valuable aPI resources as we need in real-time.
We need to get to work on doing this for the most tangible, consistent, and valuable API across the sector. We won’t be able to do for all types of APIs, and sometimes I twill be an apples to oranges comparison, but we need to get started. I’m betting that in the industries we begin to define early on we will see more consistency in how APIs are designed, and the price for API resources, as API sectors become more crowded, competitive, and cutthroat. I have the strategy for mapping out the landscape and profiling API providers and their APIs, I just don’t have the resources to actually get the work done. It is a monumental challenge, and is something that is perpetually evolving and shifting, making it a full time job for a team of API professionals to quantify what is happening right now when it comes to the expansion and evolution of the API economy.
Sadly, I am guessing people will keep doing the hard work of delivering API pricing comparisons like this, but won’t do a in a machine readable, shareable, and reusable way. We’ll cointinue doing it for the sake of advertising and page views. Eventually more investors will learn about the growing opportunity which will most likely spawn waves of revenue seeking data startups trying to make sense of it all in a closed proprietary way. What we really need is an open source approach to mapping out the API landscape, where the community comes together and collaborates around the creation and maintenance of OpenAPI and Postman collections for all the public APIs. While also injecting other machine readable artifacts that help us map out beyond just the surface area of the APIs, but also the on-boarding, pricing, terms of service, service level agreements, and other essential building blocks that influence the health of API platforms, their integrations, and the communities that rise up around them.
This article originally appeared here.