Swagger aims to become the de facto standard for APIs

The technology defines an interface to REST APIs for easier discovery and access

The popular open source Swagger API framework, intended to make it easier to deploy and use APIs, advanced this week with the release of version 2.0.

Swagger's update focuses on evolving its JSON syntax, providing a human-friendly authoring format, and creating mechanisms for vendor extensions. Version 2.0 also features a Swagger editor and validation tools.

The specification has only been revised four times in four years, said Tony Tam, project lead for Swagger and CEO of Reverb Technologies, which offers a personalized news discovery app. The intent is to keep Swagger stable; thus, there have been few revisions, he said in an interview at the I Love APIs conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Tam explained that "Swagger makes it easy for [developers] to get their APIs either discovered, documented, or connected to. It just solves a problem that's not been solved." The goal of Swagger overall, as explained on its GitHub page, is to define a standard, language-agnostic interface to REST APIs allowing people and computers to discover and understand the capabilities of a service without accessing source code, documentation, or through network traffic inspection. "When properly defined via Swagger, a consumer can understand and interact with the remote service with a minimal amount of implementation logic." YAML, meanwhile, serves as a "first-class format for describing Swagger," said Tam. Developers, for their part, have been adopting APIs in recent years for access to services.

Swagger, which is offered under an Apache 2.0 license, provides vendor and service independence and is not tied to particular technologies like Java or GitHub, Tam said, and support is coming from such vendors as Microsoft and API management provider Apigee. "Swagger is the de facto standard for describing APIs," said Marsh Gardiner, a product team member at Apigee, at the conference.

Vendor neutrality makes Swagger easy to adopt, Tam said, as proponents seek to avoid what he described as the "CORBA problem," recalling the 1990s-era software interoperability technology. "I don't want this to become so vendor-poisoned that it becomes inoperable." Asked what he would like to see from Swagger five years from now, Tam said it will cover more use cases and he hopes it drives better API design and more open communication between business units and their development groups.

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