open source vs open APIs

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by: Lynette Webb

Often the terms “open source” and “open API” get lumped together, as part of an overall web 2.0 type philosophy of “open-ness” and decentralisation. Although spiritually they seem to sit well together, in practice they refer to distinctly different things.

Click image to enlarge.

The best explanation I’ve come across, which is summarised on this slide, was written by Toni Schneider, it’s worth a read:

Here are a couple of extracts…

"In the open source model the software development is decentralized. Anyone can modify the software, independent of where they live or who they work for. The only centralized functions tend to be tracking changes to the software, enabling developers via collaboration tools and deciding which changes make it into the official version of the software."

"API stands for Application Programming Interface. APIs are a tool for programmers to make one piece of software talk to another piece of software…. An open API is one that is openly an freely available for anyone to use…. APIs have been an indispensable software development tool for decades (…but) their biggest impact I believe will be on business development. Just like open source software makes it possible for software development to happen in a decentralized and more self-serve fashion, open APIs enable the same to happen for business development."

Photo comes via Flickr CC thanks to kandyjaxx.
It’s not some abstract computer generated thing as I first thought, but actually a REAL LIFE photograph of perhaps the most horrid building I’ve ever seen. It’s the Sharp center of design in Toronto and it is truly (in my opinion) a monstrosity. More photos and description of it here: 

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