Linux Foundation Takes Control Of AsyncAPI Specification

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The Linux Foundation announced today that it now plays host to an AsyncAPI Initiative that has developed a specification and a suite of open source tools for asynchronous application programming interfaces (APIs) and event-driven architectures.

Founding sponsors of the AsyncAPI Initiative include Ably Realtime, Apideck, Bump, IQVIA Technologies, Slack, Solace and TIBCO. Most recently, Postman, a provider of API management tools, committed to providing engineering resources to the project as well.

AsyncAPI provides a language for describing the interface of event-driven systems, regardless of the underlying technology, and supports the full development cycle of event-driven architecture. That approach helps unify documentation automation and code generation, as well as managing, testing and monitoring asynchronous APIs.

Chris Aniszczyk, CTO and vice president for developer relations at the Linux Foundation, said the Linux Foundation will work with the member organizations to facilitate a governing framework similar to the frameworks other open source projects have adopted under its auspices.

In general, reliance on event-driven architectures is on the rise thanks, in part, to the rise of digital business process initiatives that require the processing and sharing of data across multiple platforms in near-real-time. The AsyncAPI Initiative makes it simpler for disparate event-driven platforms to be integrated. It’s unlikely multiple organizations involved in a digital business initiative are ever going to standardize on the same event-driven platform, so an AsyncAPI specification provides a critical linchpin.

Usage of the AsyncAPI Initiative is already fairly widespread, with Adidas, PayPal, Salesforce, SAP and Slack all employing it in production environments. In fact, the Linux Foundation cited research that identified AsyncAPI as the fastest-growing specification being implemented by developers, after seeing adoption rates in production environments triple from 2019 to 2020.

Event-driven IT architectures have, of course, been around for decades. However, as they have gained traction in the modern era of software development, the need for the equivalent of a REST API for asynchronous communications between platforms, based on different event-driven architectures, became apparent. The AsyncAPI doesn’t replace the need for other types of API specifications, but Aniszczyk noted that, over time, it will soon player a larger role, especially as cloud-native application environments become more distributed and the number of use cases that can’t be addressed using traditional batch-oriented techniques continues to rise.

In the meantime, the number of providers of event-driven platforms based on proprietary architectures spans vendors ranging from Oracle and IBM to cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). At the same time, open source messaging platforms such as Apache Kafka are starting to have a significant impact on how IT teams build their own event-driven platforms.

The level of enthusiasm for an API specification that makes all those platforms more interoperable than they would otherwise be is unclear. However, as modern IT platforms continue to evolve, more IT teams are becoming aware of the crucial role API specifications play in preventing them from becoming locked into one platform.

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