NEW YORK — APIs, the programming tools for tech developers that can enhance websites and serve as building blocks for creative mashups, are on the rise, their volume erupting from an estimated 105 in 2005 to 2,647 in 2010.
And that trend has not been overlooked by the real estate industry, according to Adam DuVander, executive editor for ProgrammableWeb.com, a site that offers news and resources for APIs and mashups. The site offers a database of about 2,000 open Web APIs (application programming interfaces).
Speaking during a tech developers workshop at the Real Estate Connect conference Wednesday, DuVander said there are about 225 real estate mashups, and about 159 of them use the Google Maps API.
"Mapping and location are — what do you know — big in real estate," he said.
Other popular APIs used in real estate mashups are those offered by Zillow, Trulia, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps and Google Base, he said.
EBay was a pioneer when it offered up an open API to the development community in 2000, DuVander said, followed by Amazon.com in 2002. By 2005 there were an estimated 105 APIs available to developers, and that exploded to 1,116 in 2008 and 2,647 in 2010.
About 149 APIs can be classified as "social," DuVander said, while about 103 are mapping-related, 83 are related to search, and 74 are related to mobile tech.
Peter Goldey, chief technology officer for Onboard Informatics, which offers several APIs for companies including real estate brokerages, said that API creators can generally be classified as "traffic pushers" that use API to deliver Web visitors, "brand builders" that expand their visibility and reach, and "commercial" enterprises that build APIs for profit.
While there are many APIs that offer up free content for websites, Goldey cautioned that users of those APIs cannot always filter that information for accuracy and suitability, and sites can also be simply feeding traffic to the API owners.
API builders, likewise, may be collecting some very interesting usage data, he said, "but they’re not likely to share that with you."