A brief history of Web APIs

Mike Ralphson on December 30, 2018

In the late 1990's and the early 2000's, the predominant use of distributed APIs over the HTTP protocol involved the exchange of Extensible Marku... [Read Full]
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Man, a topic I can talk about for hours (and spent years involved in)! Thanks Mike.

"...led to a gradual shift from XML to JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) as the data format of choice. The acronym however, has stuck."

I also wondered why the acronym never changed.

"Once common, a web site which combined content or data from more than one "Web 2.0" source was known as a "Mash-up". Though this term has largely fallen out of use, remnants of this terminology can still be seen in organisation names such as Mashable (now part of Tibco) and Mashape."

I remember Yahoo had a application you could mix and match different queries and data sources into a mashable news feed like dashboard. For the life of me I can not remember what it was called.

Side note: I'd like to point out that Roy T. Fielding doctoral dissertation was published a hole 5 years BEFORE AJAX. Conceptually making REST an older tech than AJAX. Just food for thought.

"...REST is not a standard with which you must comply, nor should it be seen as the one true path."

I am guilty of pushing to stay as close to the spec as possible. In recent years (and a number of projects) I've come to be a bit more flexible...when it makes sense.

Thank you again Mike, great article. I look forward to the next one.


Yahoo Pipes of course :)

Microsoft also had a product called Popfly that competed with Yahoo Pipes.


Thanks, will respond to your detailed points when I'm back at a computer.


Yes, Yahoo Pipes is a fond memory for many (though I never used it at the time). I think there might be open-source reimplementations of it - may be worth checking out alternativeto.net/software/yahoo-p...

I make reference to Fielding's dissertation being from 2000, but adoption of REST really picked up around 2007, some time after AJAX was coined.

I am guilty of pushing to stay as close to the spec as possible

When you say "spec", what do you mean? There is no REST specification, REST is just a set of constraints (one optional) by which you can recognise whether a web API leverages the HTTP protocol in the way Fielding intended.


I'll leave you with a request for a post if you want to write it: your opinions about the future of Web APIs. Where REST future lies, how is GraphQL evolving, alternatives to protobuffers like capnproto and whatever you want to talk about :D

In this one you talked about the past, I would love to read one about present and future :)


"organisation names such as Mashable (now part of Tibco) and Mashape."

You are confusing Mashable (the publication) with Mashery (which got acquired by Tibco).


You're right, thanks. Will correct and credit you.


Thanks to Marco Palladine for catching a thinko in this article.

Thank you! But you misspelled my last name :)


Very very interesting. Needless to mention that GraphQL only works via HTTP POST, which is a paradox


GraphQL also supports GET over HTTP, but obviously that can run into problems with server query-string length limits.

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