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One interface to rule them all

CloudRail SI for Java: “Many developers want to download just one SDK”

Felix Kollmar
Orange sunset image via Shutterstock

With developers spending so much time with API integrations in their development time, Felix Kollmar of CloudRail, based in Mannheim, Germany, saw an opportunity to help improve their lives. “We’re all developers at CloudRail,” says Felix Kollmar, CEO and co-founder of CloudRail, “and so we all know the pain of integrating APIs. We wanted to make a library that gives developers all the tools they need to make great applications.”

CloudRail gives developers one SDK, then allows them to integrate a range of external APIs, with all the functions of each service being exactly the same. So, for example, with CloudRail, when a developer uses an upload function/command, each Cloud Storage service accepts this — the developer doesn’t have to change the inputs, or how they handle the input from the API.

This solves one of the problems with API management: If a developer wants to add multiple external services into their applications, they have to spend a lot of time going through the documentation for each service they want to add, and update the code they use for the unique way in which that service has implemented the needed functions.

CloudRail has been working closely with our developer community to understand their needs and requirements. These new features come directly from those discussions.

History of CloudRail

CloudRail started out as a solution for the Internet of Things. The CloudRail Library was accessed using a custom Workbench system, whereby users had to log onto the CloudRail website and configure whatever outside services they wanted to add to their applications.

“Although the reaction to version one of CloudRail was great”, says Felix, “we discovered that many developers wanted to download just one SDK. We also found that developers found the idea of integrating lots of APIs, not just those connected to the Internet of Things, a lot more interesting.”

One of the reasons why CloudRail was created was because of a dissatisfaction towards the API economy. Many other solutions focus only on the high-end enterprise applications, without much thought going into the usage of the smaller developers. The same ones who built the first prototype of Apple in a garage many years ago, or founded multi-million dollar companies while living in college dorms.

Philosophy of CloudRail

Creating CloudRail was quite a simple route for Felix Kollmar. Felix found that although “working in a huge company can be fun, my experience was that ideas and the willingness to improve or fundamentally change something is valued but usually not executed.” This core tenant of change is something that Felix has infused into all aspects of the CloudRail attitude. When the team realizes that something needs to change, either based on intuition or user feedback, the decision is being executed as fast as possible.

“A startup like CloudRail is different,” says Felix. ” You have an idea, you try it, fail, change and try again. Working in my own company on my own dreams – for me – is the only way to have a real impact which I personally consider important.”

Even with the constant reiteration of ideas, there is one thing that has remained the same, a quality that all employees also require. That is a dream of an interconnected world.

“We want to work with people who are as excited about the CloudRail technology as we are,” says Felix. “We want passionate people who come to work every day knowing that they are taking the necessary steps to make the world a better place, not just for developers but for everyone. We want people who are not afraid of failure, but who will get back up on the saddle if this is the case and try out the next thing.”

CloudRail employees share a dream of an interconnected world.

This is also the reason why all the core features of CloudRail are free of charge. Although there are some paid options, these are for enterprises and consist of on-going support and API monitoring. “The only way to turn the dream that CloudRail stands for into a reality,” says Felix, “is to make sure that every developer, no matter their budget, can use CloudRail.”

The dream that Felix and everyone at CloudRail is shooting for is a world where developers can take full advantage of all the online services out there without having to dedicate an unfeasible amount of time to adding extra code to their applications. For non-developers, the dream is to make applications more intelligent and to offer a degree of personal choice that they currently don’t have. When a consumer uses an application that, for example, has CloudStorage features, they are often locked into the Cloud Storage service that one developer has decided to use. This can cause a lot of problems if businesses use OneDrive instead.

Because of the complexities of adding OneDrive, when compared to other APIs, many developers don’t include it in their application. But with CloudRail, once a developer has added a service, adding other services takes just one line of code. This remains true for all the other interfaces that CloudRail uses. For example, in comparison with Facebook and Twitter, an application having the option to log in with GitHub is rare. However, many developers may prefer to log into tools using their GitHub accounts in order to keep work and personal life separate. To integrate social sign-in the old-fashioned way, developers would have to spend time looking over the GitHub documentation and integrating the custom GitHub code.

“We believe in a fully connected world. Our hope is that CloudRail plays an essential role in making software, devices and clouds compatible. People will be happy to learn that their smart devices are finally compatible and their apps are working seamlessly with any cloud provider. Everything will be connected and people won’t have to wprry about different vendors or standards — all powered by the CloudRail technology.”

Author

Felix Kollmar

Felix is one of the co-founders and CEO of CloudRail. Previously, he founded several other startups and worked for Deutsche Telekom in R&D. He studied telecommunication engineering in Mannheim, Germany.


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