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ApiAxle - open source API management and analytics proxy

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This is a guest post by Phil Jackson, the creator of ApiAxle open source API management and analytics solution. If you develop or use an open source application and would like to tell the world about it, CUBRID open source database project is accepting guest posts.

ApiAxle is an API management solution which is open source and free. The basic premise is that you build your API, put ApiAxle in front of it and it will handle user authentication, rate limiting, statistics, etc. I represent a business which generates a revenue through support and consultancy, but first and foremost I am a developer who loves APIs and the idea of companies exposing their data to enable people to build some brilliant things. As a company we are enjoying building a great product and watching it gain traction amongst fellow hackers.

The API problem

We noticed a space in the market for an open source, on-premise proxy which did not cost the earth and did not involve sending your data over multiple, high-latency hops out into the cloud.

Where a developer these days can type apt-get install nginx to get a solid webserver, there was not really an equivalent for an API management system. Building out the features we provide can be a time-consuming, monotonous and error-prone process that we really hope people do not keep having to perform.

The solution

That is where we come in. We want to bury our head in security documentation and RFCs so that you can concentrate on making a great API. With a few simple commands you can be up and running within 20 minutes. Within 30 you can be on-boarding customers, authenticating them and getting detailed statistics about their usage. You will also get caching, rate limiting, HTTPS support and a highly configurable logging system.

How it works

There are three components in ApiAxle:

The REPL

You probably want this first. The repl allows you to configure ApiAxle from the command line. Setting up an API and API keys ready for the proxy to work with is easy. It fires up an instance of ApiAxle’s own HTTP API in the background and uses that to modify aspects of the system. Anything you can do in the REPL you can do programmatically with the API too.

Install:

$ sudo npm install apiaxle-repl

Start:

$ apiaxle

Configure an API and a new key to use the API with:

axle> key "05050c14643dc" create
axle> api "acme" create endPoint="localhost:81"
axle> api "acme" linkkey "05050c14643dc"

The Proxy

The kernel of the system. This goes between the Internet and your API and does the authentication, throttling, caching and statistics collection. It’is fast, secure and easy to setup. You will need either the REPL or the API to configure it first.

It does not matter what your API actually outputs - ApiAxle never modifies the body of a response. With regards to errors (e.g. user over quota) you can tell ApiAxle what format they should be in. We support XML or JSON. If you have Node.js installed, installation is as simple as:

$ sudo npm install apiaxle-proxy

Then start the proxy with:

$ apiaxle-proxy

The API

Bear with me, this gets a bit meta. This is ApiAxle’s own HTTP API which gives you full control over your APIs and the API keys and keyrings used to access them. You can view statistics about individual APIs and API keys from week long granularities right down to near-real-time hits at a single second granularity.

Install:

$ sudo npm install apiaxle-api

Start:

$ apiaxle-api

Find out which APIs you have configured:

$ curl "localhost:3000/v1/apis"

Where we are headed to

We have lots planned, to summarise:

  • Client drivers for the API. Demand is high for PHP and Ruby so we will get them done ASAP.
  • Now that OAuth2 has been ratified we will be working on getting that in as an authentication method.
  • We are working on a dashboard which will give you a way to manage your APIs, keys, keyrings and give you a way to view real-time and historical statistics - this will be a paid-for service.
  • We will be pushing out a user registration system soon so that you can on-board and bill customers without any manual intervention.

So the future is exciting. We are really looking forward to meeting more developers that are interested in APIs and the huge ecosystem that is formed around them. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions or just to say hi!

By Phil Jackson, the creator of ApiAxle. Follow him on Twitter @philjackson.

After receiving his computing degree from Teesside University, Phil became a software engineer. As he moved through industry, he found himself becoming increasingly fascinated with APIs and, after helping the BBC write their iPlayer API, founded Qwerly, a company that aggregated social profile information and offered it to companies for insight/marketing purposes. After selling Qwerly to a competitor, taking some time off, Phil wrote the code which would eventually make up ApiAxle. Now he's running ApiAxle full-time and hopes it will become the ubiquitous, open source tool for managing APIs.



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