This Halloween, we’re gonna imagine the scariest thing possible: a world that is…suddenly…without APIs!
Imagine it. You’re used to scrolling your smartphone, connecting to maps, music, and other apps in your car. You can order ahead on your phone, you can email any materials that you need to deliver urgently. And then, suddenly, on October 31, 2022…you wake up, and find none of it is working. You don’t even know how to prepare for the day. How should you check the weather? Should you go outside and just guess based on the clouds? What nonsense! Maybe before work you can listen to the radio? Isn’t there something you can find on that FM button? Let’s hope they announce the weather…Without APIs, this is your best bet for figuring out what’s coming.
You should probably go ahead and get going though. You have to get to the office.You have no choice. Remote working solutions require APIs. You’re gonna need to do everything, even the most menial communications, face to face.
On your way, you hit a traffic jam. If you’d have known, you could have taken an alternate route. But without a GPS API, or an API connecting you to real-time traffic data, how would you know there is traffic, much less what alternate route to take! Better dig under your seat to find (hopefully) a crusty, ripped paper map that may help – and hope you don’t get into a fender-bender because you’re reading a map rather than watching the road!
Finally, you just can’t take the traffic anymore. You have to have a break. You stop by Starbucks for a cup of coffee…but have to fish through your pockets for exact change (do we still use change?), since credit card payments also require APIs to communicate between a merchant, a bank, and the credit card system. The cashier takes awhile to process the transaction, because her cash register cannot be connected to any POS API and she’s having to count out the correct change.
Once you get to the office, your secretary lets you know you have a memo in your inbox requiring immediate attention. But you cannot find it ANYWHERE! It must have been cleaned up by the night staff. Alas, you cannot receive the memo directly, since messaging of any sort also requires an API. The papers overflow in your inbox, and you can’t maneuver them nearly as easily as you can from your G-drive and your email. Every two minutes someone is walking through your door to tell you something that could easily have been an email. Or a slack message. And you can’t even set reminders to think about it later. Where is that stack of post-its…
Your big task at work is reworking the custom accounting application your company uses, because the association requires a new reporting format. How on Earth can you do this, now that APIs have disappeared? Without APIs, the mainframe application your firm uses doesn’t have distinct modules. If any changes are required, even if they are moderate, they affect the entire application and require massive change and re-testing.
After lunch (remember, still no credit cards!) your plan is to settle the corporate accounts payable. First, you have to walk all the way to the accounts payable department to get the printed report.
Then, you drive to a bank to have the bank issue a payment. Of course, banking is a huge industry, and there’s a long line you have to wait in, as everyone else has also figured out that the only way to access their bank accounts is to go to the physical bank. ACH and remote banking transactions do not work, because these also require inter-banking and online payment APIs. A task that could have taken minutes takes hours. But at least you get a complimentary hard candy. Trick or treat!
Your next stop is to meet a corporate partner at a notary public to sign a contract. (Oh gosh please, not more traffic! Are you supposed to turn here or up there?) You have to do that in person because the eSigning API does not exist and there are no electronic signatures or a log of signed contracts.
All this driving around gets you to the late afternoon when you have a doctor appointment. Unfortunately, there are still no APIs to access your EMR, pharmaceutical prescriptions, insurance filings, or to send lab filings. You have to wait for a courier to bring your results from a lab to your doctor’s office. You’ll also have to go by the pharmacy later to drop off your prescription, and then return at another time to pick it up. Please! NO! MORE! LINES!
Back at home, exhausted and low on gas (I hope you got more cash while you stopped at the bank – because there are no credit card machines at the pump either!), your high schooler has a science project which requires research. More’s the pity, no Google for you! You two head to the library. You have to teach them about the dewey decimal system and hope the reference books they have are up-to-date on research. Once you find what you need, you also have to teach your teenager to use the microfiche reader and write notes on the patent findings. This, of course, is because the US PTO API does not exist.
Finally, while at the library you borrow a “best of the 90s” album that you’re excited about. Without APIs, you have no way to stream music on demand. iTunes and any kind of media streaming requires APIs. You have a CD player somewhere…right?
Later that evening, someone rings your doorbell, you have to get up to check who is there. There’s no ring app on your phone helping you to securely monitor your home. Let’s hope it’s just a trick-or-treater, and not your nosy neighbor!
Back to reality. Life can be pretty scary (and frustrating) without APIs! API use has dramatically changed how we live our lives, permeating every aspect of how we manage our time, do our work, interact with others, and take care of our responsibilities. It was not that long ago that the situations I described were our norm. It sounds easy enough in theory to return to such ways, and sometimes, we may think that it wouldn’t be that difficult. But, now that we’ve learned how much easier it is to function in this fast-paced, tech-based society, returning to a time before APIs would be a headache for all of us who have grown to depend on their impact on our lives.
APIs are everywhere, and they make up a core foundation of your business operations.
When we rely on APIs to deliver value in a consumer or a B2B application, equally scary can be addressing unmanaged API sprawl. With great API use comes great responsibility – responsibility to secure your data and to protect your business from malicious behavior. Traceable can work with your team to ensure API observability and API security throughout the API lifecycle so that your day-to-day operations don’t become a nightmare.
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