Sharing is caring : 5 reasons why your idea needs an API

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Imagine you’re at home, and all of a sudden, the UMEME guy walks into your sitting room and takes a seat. In shock, you shoot a Stern surprised look at him hoping for an introduction, some sort of explanation. And then he turns to you with a wide grin on his face and says, “Mwana, enjara n’eyoku nnyita! Mwine ho emere?” (Am very hungry, do you have food?)

 API is short for Application Programming Interface. It’s what your construct uses to play nicely with external services should it have something they want, or they something it wants. Assuming your construct was equated to a home, an API would define the rules of engagement with the uncertain world that lies outside your fence.

In this day and age, you can’t afford to deploy without an API, and if you don’t want UMEME people strolling into your home unannounced and uninvited, here’s 5 reasons you will need an API.

1. You’ll be forced to clean up your house before the visitors come.

If you need to consider what data you’ll be sharing, you’ll be forced to organize your construct so that it can share without leaks and clogs.
You’ll have to wash the dishes, clean the couches, and dust the door mat before the visitors come!

2. You’ll have to decide what drinks to give the visitors.

If you have to prepare to share your data, you’ll have to think long and hard about which service wants what data, and in what forms, and with what encryption to mention but a few.
An auntie from the village? She might want bushera. A toddler from the neighborhood? He might want a Fanta (although even water with sugar works sometimes).

3. You’ll have to decide what door they should use to come in.

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If there services coming in requesting data, you’ll have to specify where what data passes, and all the intricacies that entails. A trusted sister site wants data? You can create a ‘back door’ so it doesn’t have to queue with the ‘ordinary’ ones.
Your sister has come to spend the night? She can use the back door and pass through the kitchen and make herself a snack even. A Jehovah’s witness has come? Front door, please.

4. You’ll get to decide who the askari should let in and who he should bounce.



So, you have setup your construct, and have ways in and out. Who will be let in? Will any Tom, Dick, and Harry service requesting data be given free VIP access??
That guy who came to visit sometime and your flash went missing, tell the askari not to allow him in again! That friend who always comes with food, tell the askari to open both sides of the gate and even wash the car!!

5. Depending on the type of visitors you get, you’ll get to choose which room they get to enter, and which room they don’t.


Okay, so you have the end points set, the response handlers, and even the proper abstractions in place to keep your data safe from nozy internet trolls. So, what about the more trivial issues like which service is allowed to access what data? For how long? How often? And which party will be incurring the cost?
Again, with the gate, the askari, and even the doors in place, the UMEME dude only stops at the meter, and no further. It’s only the friend who enters the living room [sitting room if you grew up where I grew up] and only the sibling who is allowed access to your room.
“And what if I don’t want to share??” you may be asking. Well, that’s not possible – not when you’re on the internet – the sole proof that sharing builds humanity faster than USAID donations and strings-attached ‘funding’ from the world powers.
So, with your home in place, all these things – big or small – must be taken care of, because sooner or later, visitors are coming!

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