Apigee Lets API Developers Pop The Hood, Muck With Underlying Code

As more businesses turn to the Web for commerce, application programming interfaces, or APIs, have grown tremendously in importance. APIs let developers tap into Web services easily, without re-coding their own applications to interact with those services.

API management tools like Apigee Enterprise can be effective platforms to do just that. They offer plug-and-play configurations that makes creating an API creation a GUI-based snap. But you know developers—the urge to code can be hard to resist. Or there may be a complex problem that an API manager can't build easily.

At those times, many developers really need to pop the hood on the API manager in order to get down into the code. And that's why Apigee just announced that developers can now use the popular Node.js software platform within Apigee Enterprise to build APIs and apps.

The integration of Node.js extends the programmability of Apigee and the capability of developers to use code to create specialized APIs, the company's chief architect, Greg Brail, told me in an interview.

Node.js is a JavaScript-based development platform with a large number of pre-existing third-party libraries. That's one of the big reasons Apigee integrated it as opposed to plain-vanilla JavaScript.

The addition of Node.js to Apigee Enterprise is designed to let developers handle scenarios that Apigee's software might not otherwise be able to handle. For instance, Brail said, imagine a company had an existing set of servers for commerce, like an order-taking and a catalog service, and wanted to tie in a new service that would monitor all of a customer's favorites. It would have previously been complicated to tie the new service into all of the e-commerce servers, but now deverlopers can build one Node.js app to handle it all.

Node.js can also satisfy the urge for developers who just want to get their hands on lines of code—like flipping Dreamweaver into HTML edit mode when the WYSIWYG editor just won't do.

Ultimately, the inclusion of Node.js tools within Apigee Enterprise hints at Apigee's next steps. "APIs aren't the destination," Brail said. "The destination is the apps and what they can do."

Apigee is taking strides towards becoming an even more robust development platform, where development teams can use API-based methods to build APIs that will enable customers, partners and even other in-house developers to access services. Brail envisions an API-based development ecosystem, where software features can be shared without complex code integration.

Code tools like Node.js will allow for such connections, smoothing out any rough edges along the way.

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