Once an enterprise builds out its API strategy, gets the APIs in place, the success is contingent on how well the APIs are used by the target consumers, the developers. How easily can the developers find and consume your APIs - that becomes a critical element for the success of your API business.
Beyond that, how engaged a community can you build around your APIs, so you have a committed, thriving ecosystem that gives wings to your API business. That is why an API portal is a key peg in your API lifecycle management plan.
Out-of-the-box developer portals come as part of API Management platforms. For example, Apigee’s platform comes with the classic option of Drupal-based CMS portal, or a simpler one that uses Markdown. You can customize API portals to suit your business, so you can go live faster. Let’s look at what your API developer portal should have.
What do developers need?
It is the developers who will create applications that will make use of your APIs, thereby creating value for the end customers. They need the following features:
A search function to quickly find APIs of their interest
Ability to manage their credentials
Try out an API, without having to write code for it through an API Console
Understand API usage limits for the plan they sign up for: quota, throttling limits, etc
Manage the various stages of their app: create marketing content, be able to connect with the developer community so that they can seek feedback, ask for help or give suggestions
Be able to manage the API lifecycle, from the sandbox to the production environments
Get access to the pricing plans, usage, reports, billing details, etc.
A developer who is interested in your APIs but doesn’t have a good enough user experience with any of the above parameters, might not get on-boarded at all. This is the point where enterprises lose most developers. If you can hold on to them here and make it really easy for them to sign up, test out things, find the info they need, then you’d have increased the chances of onboarding them.
Some of the things you must ensure are:
- Is the messaging about the API, who is it for, its benefits, etc, available up front? And is it easy to understand?
- Is it easy to access the APIs?
- Do you have example code they can easily view? Is there a demo?
- Do you have an API console that lets them try out how the API works?
- Are the relevant SDKs and libraries easily available? In the languages and platforms they prefer to work in?
- How good is your documentation? And is it in formats they can search and easily refer to?
You can get out-of-the-box portals from various API management platforms such as Apigee or WSO2. You can then customize them to have your company branding, as well as have the kind of features and workflows you will need for your API business. APIGEE’s Drupal-based developer portal, built on the tenets of Content, Community and Commerce, allows itself for customization that your API business needs. Srijan has expertise in having customized such portals for various enterprise customers.
Srijan has also built a Drupal developer portal distribution to augment WSO2 Carbon. This is expected to be open sourced in a few week’s time.