As APIs become more prevalent, there are two trends in app development that federal app developers should watch. First, is the rise of “microservices.” If you have used Netflix, you have used microservices. Microservices are small, single-purpose applications that collaborate using APIs to deliver services. Even though microservices have been used for a while, the increasing popularity of cloud computing and APIs has made microservices more reliable.
Closely allied with microservices are “containers.” Containers are a very technical subject, but the advantages are very clear. Think of containers as a plastic lunch box. Each container can hold a different lunch item such as a sandwich, soup, or a salad. All the containers can be stored in the same refrigerator but are completely separate with their specific utensils for eating the lunch.
Computer containers are also separate but use the same server resources to run applications. Thus, a microservice can be separated in its container while using an API to collaborate with other microservices on the same server. Containers can also be packaged and easily moved to servers with the same operating system.
As federal agencies begin to incorporate third-party APIs and provide more API services, agencies should consider using microservice architectures and containers. This will allow for the building of more complex applications that can better integrate with other applications. SaferRide’s use of Yelp reveals the promise of microservices and containers in building future federal apps.Each week in “The API Briefing,” I will showcase government APIs and the latest API news and trends. Visit this blog every week to learn how government APIs are transforming government and improving government services for the American people. If you have ideas for a topic or have questions about APIs, please contact me via email. Dr. William A. Brantley is the HRIS Branch Chief in the USDA’s Rural Development Human Resources Office. You can find out more about his non-federal work in this space at BillBrantley.com. All opinions are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the USDA and GSA.