API Evaluation Framework is here!

An important and highly useful evaluation framework for APIs is now available from Idealware — Getting Your Systems Talking: A Framework to Evaluate APIs and Data Exchange Features.

API Evaluation Worksheet
The API Framework includes an Excel evaluation tool you can use.

The creation of the framework was a collaborative effort led by Paul Hagen and Laura Quinn in partnership with NTEN. Beaconfire was the underwriting sponsor for the report and my colleagues Jeff and Alan were contributors.

APIs are all the rage … and for good reason. They represent a powerful and flexible approach to data exchange between systems. As we know from our own experiences, not all APIs are created equal. How do you assess if the API of a system you have is robust enough for your needs? How do you compare one against another? What’s important to focus on in these evaluations.

What Paul and Laura have put together with input from thought leaders across the sector is a highly useful framework for evaluating APIs. As Laura writes in the introduction:

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to evaluate data integration features. Some packages allow tremendous flexibility, some only allow a particular, prescribed method of data integration, while others don’t support any access to data at all. One may be powerful but completely undocumented (and thus nearly impossible to use), while another may provide access to only a tiny portion of the data that’s desirable or lack the scalability or security necessary in a robust system.

The framework for evaluation provides assessment criteria in six key areas:

  • The APIs documentation
  • API’s technology openness
  • Security & privacy of the API
  • Performance criteria (SLAs, managing traffic spikes, etc)
  • API support — both from the vendor and the community
  • Robust of API access and functionality

The report and rubric are a great contribution. Thanks to Paul, Laura, Jeff and all the contributors for this seminal effort.

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