Swisscom APIs – open source?

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APIs at Swisscom

Earlier this year I joined the Swisscom API program as a trainee. With a bachelor in business administration I supported – and still do – the business part, marketing & communications of the program. For people without an IT-background it was hard to explain the meaning and functionality of APIs. After several months of learning I had following approach: APIs, formerly known as application programming interfaces, are interfaces to program any kind of applications. They enable “machines“ to talk to each other. APIs are omnipresent in your daily life. Do you wear a Fitbit or Nike FuelBand? Have you ever used a Twitter or Facebook app or bought anything online? Do you use Google Analytics? If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’re already benefiting from APIs. Swisscom needs to expose their assets, resources and services as well to keep up in the digital world. A year ago Swisscom build up a platform and started to expose several APIs – currently most of them are for internal use only.

Open source?

Due to the “open source month“ on the ICT-Blog I thought about presenting the Swisscom APIs. Open source and APIs have some similarities but cannot be compared with each other. The core idea behind open source is to give away the source code of your software so that anyone can study, fix and improve it. Sounds quite similar but it isn’t. This tends to better software for happy customers. APIs or better open APIs help developers to build new applications for happier customers. An open API is one that is freely available for anyone to use. At developer.swisscom.com there are already “free“ APIs available. Due to our Beta status of our portal they’re free for developers. More to come… The open data philosophy is rather used in the API development. Swisscom strongly involves external developers for the API solution design development and uses standardized methods as Raml or Swagger. This leads to a satisfied API design which can be used by anyone.

Decentralized business development

With APIs you’re allowing developers to enrich their apps with new functionalities e.g. payment on your mobile phone bill. The payment API is already used by the application EAT.CH where customers can pay their Pizzas and other food with their Swisscom bill.  So, open APIs don’t mean open source, they’re rather enabling decentralized 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. Please get in touch if you are interested in more information about Swisscom APIs.