In the original proposal for the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee wrote:
A generic tool could perhaps be made to allow any database which uses a commercial DBMS to be displayed as a hypertext view.
We did get those hypertext views, in the form of APIs, but not in a generic way. Database-backed web applications grew APIs that yielded diverse XML and then JSON outputs. Programming languages grew libraries to help developers consume those outputs. Learning to use each individual API was challenging, joining outputs from several APIs even more so.
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