Many successful startups have followed a simple pattern in recent years. They gain the users then demand for an ecosystem begins. We saw this with Facebook, with Twitter, with Foursquare, etc. Quora is currently in the process of gaining those users. And now the demand for an ecosystem is kicking in. So they’re releasing an early API to meet that demand.
Specifically, Quora has launched an “Extension API”. Engineer Edmond Lau has detailed it here, but essentially, it’s a simple API that allows users who are building browser extensions based on Quora’s data to access better data from users who are logged into Quora.
This API comes as a direct result of the Google Chrome Quora extension created by Andrew Brown, which we covered a couple weeks ago. Lau notes that another developer, Jason Wiener, quickly followed this up with a similar Firefox extension for the service.
But Lau warns, “The API is still in its alpha phases, and there’s no guarantee that as we evolve the site that we’ll be able to maintain the same interface, as certain fields may no longer be relevant or have the same semantics. We’ll try our best to work with developers to ease any necessary migrations.”
Again, this is just the first step for Quora APIs. As co-founder Charlie Cheever noted back in December 2009, “When there are enough users and content on Quora that an API would be really useful, we’ll almost certainly add one.” Sounds like the timing is right.