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Craig Burton

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How to Make an API

February 21st, 2013 · No Comments · Apps, feature, The API Economy

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Making an API is hard. It is also a tough question. A small company out of England has figured out how to let anyone make an API with just:

  1. Dropbox
  2. A Spreadsheet
  3. A Datownia SaaS account


One of the activities I practice to keep up with what is happening in the world of APIs is to subscribe to the ProgrammableWeb’s newsletter. Every week the newsletter contains the latest APIs that have been added to the rapidly increasing list. While I seldom can get through the whole list, I inevitably find one or two new APIs that are really interesting.

Recently I ran into one that has an incredibly simple and effective method of creating an API out of a spreadsheet.

The Company is

I now have an API with a developer portal that is driven by data in a spread sheet.

I can distribute developer keys to any developer I choose and then that developer can access the data and integrate it into any app.

Further, any change I make to the spreadsheet get versioned and propagated to the API with just a click. To propagate the data, all I do is modify the spreadsheet and drop it into the linked DropBox folder.

Here is what my spreadsheet looks like.




Here is what the JSON look like when you make a restful call to the API location created for me by Datownia.






So simple.

I have been talking a lot about companies that manage already existing APIs. But what about organizations that need to create APIs?

A few weeks ago, I received an email from the CEO of Datownia wanting to give me a small gift to chat with him about what I was doing with their technology.

Of course as an analyst I can’t accept any gifts, but I had a great conversation with William Lovegrove about the technology and where the idea came from.

From one-offs to a SaaS

Basically William’s little consulting firm was busy building and evangelizing APIs to organizations. When a company was confronted with making an API, often progress would screech to halt or at least be diverted while things were sorted out. Often IT departments simply could not deal with making an API for anything. Other times they would be engaged into creating a one-time API for a company.

Complicated, expensive and not very efficient.

Datownia then came up with the idea of building a service in the cloud that automates the process of building and API.

I think this is brilliant.

If you need ana API, or just want to play with a prototype, you should take a look at how simple this is.

Thanks William Lovegrove and crew.

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