Newly launched API Commons aims to help speed up the process of developing APIs by encouraging the sharing of API code and descriptions.
API Commons has been created as a not-for-profit by Steven Willmott, founder of the API Management Platform 3Scale and API Evangelist Kin Lane. It is intended to provide:
A common place to publish and share your own API specifications / Data Models in any format such as Swagger, API Blueprint or RAML, as well as explore and discover the API designs of others
where, crucially, an API is licensed for others to reuse and remix using Creative Commons licenses.
The motivation for the initiative was to avoid the duplication of effort if developers constantly re-invent the wheel every time they want to develop an API without risking future copyright issues.
As its top FAQ it refers to the Oracle v Google judgement, in which Judge William Alsup ruled that Oracle's Java APIs Not Copyrightable. It proceeds to gives three reasons why a commons, which makes explicit that reuse is permitted, is needed for three reasons:
- Such judgements may be reversed in the future and hence endanger many interfaces built on the premise of re-usability.
- Legal processes are lengthy and costly - not having explicit agreement that re-use is permitted creates unknown business risks.
- Even if re-use is permitted, it is common courtesy to seek permission to use someone else's work
- Interface commons provides the means for interface owners to explicitly declare re-usability and hence remove any ambiguity.
API Commons was launched at the recent Defrag 2013 and according to its subsequent blog post , the feedback was 98% positive. Currently the project is in its infancy and needs support. As the blog puts it:
The number one thing is get more API designs hung in the commons. We need you to step up and register your own API definitions, and help spread the word to other API providers about the importance for declaring their API definitions.