APIs are channels to open up an organization’s data and capabilities. They create synergies between organizations or business units to grow the overall pie or to greatly increase the speed of delivery. To take advantage of these benefits, organizations are increasingly open to using APIs not necessarily created by their teammates. These APIs may be created by different business units in the same company, by partners, or third parties that have no formal relationship with the API-consuming organization. As a result, organizations need to effectively catalog a growing number of APIs to increase the productivity of application developers.
API Marketplaces are the tools to organize this proliferation of APIs. Just like a real-life marketplace, they provide a meeting place for multiple providers on one side and multiple consumers on the other side. They allow APIs to be listed in a catalog, create collections of APIs, provide their documentation, and enable consumers to try them out. The goal is to help application developers to find and use APIs more easily and quickly.
In the first post in this series, we described what API Marketplaces are and why an organization or individual would want to participate in one. In this second post, we will see how you can create an API Marketplace by delivering on the requirements of each persona that uses it.
Why use a developer portal as an API Marketplace?
At Software AG, we realize that API programs constitute more than APIs from a single organization or gateways from a single vendor. We also realize that each organization has a multitude of consumers from different business units, from different partners, or are independent application developers. That’s why we feel your developer portal should be designed to cater to these two-sided marketplaces use cases.
Now, let’s consider each persona in this ecosystem and look at the perfect tool can help to create a sophisticated, flexible, and extensible API Marketplace.
As an api marketplace owner:
- You want to host a number of APIs from different provider organizations that don’t necessarily use the same API Gateway as you do. You can find an API management platform that allows you to onboard multiple providers that use any API gateway or don’t use a gateway at all. These providers can add and manage their APIs in your marketplace, listing their SLAs, samples, and documentation.
- You want to onboard consumers individually or from different organizations. You can find an API management platform that allows you to import users from multiple LDAP servers and allow signing up from different Identity Providers with Single Sign-On or social networks (Facebook, Github, Google). You can also create a flexible onboarding approval workflow using internal and external approvals (through an issue tracking software such as Jira or ServiceNow, or customer integration flow).
- You want to create spaces for team collaboration. With the right API management platform, you can designate private or public communities to group APIs. You can also manage who can be a member of these communities. APIs that belong to private communities will only be visible to the members of that community.
- You want to host assets other than APIs such as documents, microservices, or integration connectors. You want an API management platform that lets you host any asset type and create galleries of those assets.
- You want to white-label your marketplace to offer your providers or consumers a user experience that is aligned with your brand. The right API management platform will have a front-end, including thumbnails, navigation bars, colors, fonts, and pages that can be customized from its UI. If you still don’t like the out-of-the-box front end, you will want a solution with a headless engine using REST APIs that deliver 100% of its features and build your own front-end using the technology of your choice.
- You want to add custom pages such as tutorials, blogs, and resources to guide your users and manage access to those pages. The right API management solution lets you create any number of pages or link to external pages. You can also limit the access to those pages to individual users or groups of users.
- You want to host lively conversations in your marketplace to keep your users engaged. You want an API management platform that offers rich collaboration tools to discuss and rate APIs. Users can comment on APIs, report bugs, and share links or documents about those APIs, have subconversations, or rate APIs.
- You want to analyze the usage of your API Marketplace. The right API management platform will have analytics dashboards that let you analyze the usage of your marketplace from different angles. You can look at user signup, login, onboarding trends, API and application trends, and access logs to continuously evaluate the performance and the activity on your marketplace.
As an api provider:
- You want to make your APIs available to a wide or a narrow group of consumers. With the right API management solution, you can fine tune the visibility of your APIs to make them public or only available to the consumer groups of your choice.
- You want to expose only those APIs that are tested, mature, and well-documented among the many APIs you provide. The right API management platform allows for designating custom lifecycle stages for APIs such as draft, live, retired, and lets you control the visibility of APIs based on these stages.
- You want to monetize your APIs. The right API management solution will allow you to publish packages of your APIs with your specified SLAs and prices, and let your consumers subscribe to those packages.
- You want to provide rich documents to make using your APIs easy. You can find an API management platform that enables you to upload different document formats for each API. You can also add custom pages to provide tutorials or guides and enrich those pages with embedded YouTube videos, tweets, or other resources from the web.
- You want to design how you market your APIs. You can specify the API details including API description, code samples, and complementary images to appeal to developers in the right API management platform.
- You want to interact with the users of your APIs. You want each API to have a space to chat included that is only visible to the users viewing that specific API. You can post comments or attach documents in this space and respond to specific comments or to all comments. You can also see how your consumers rate your API.
- You want to know how your APIs are performing. You can find an API management platform that offers provider dashboards to see the most viewed or followed APIs and their trends across time, your most active users, the response times your users are seeing, and more rich analytics to help you analyze and quickly adapt your API program.
as an api consumer:
- You want to quickly browse all APIs and find the right one. You can find a developer portal that lists all the APIs that providers share with you in a user-friendly interface. You can also search or filter APIs across maturity status, categories, tags, and more dimensions.
- You want to easily try the APIs to see if they are what you are looking for. Each API in the right API management solution has a section that lets you test them without leaving the UI.
- You want to follow API forums to see API reviews by other users and bug reports. Each API in the right API management platform has a forum section to host a lively discussion between app and API developers for reviews, enhancement requests, bug reports, and more.
- You want to stay up to date on events, tutorials, blog posts, etc. by the API developers. You want an API management platform that can be enhanced with custom pages, event schedules, and tutorials to keep you in the know.
- You want to know what the most popular APIs are, applications, and their performance. The right API management platform will offer rich analytics to cater to the consumer analytics to help you see the most popular and best performing APIs.
Designing a popular and useful API Marketplace
The more crowded an API Marketplace gets, the better. After all, the point is to create a meeting place for different users who have the same goal of putting great applications out there. All these different users have diverse needs and wants to achieve this goal, and your marketplace should be flexible and versatile enough to cater to all their differing requirements. It should not only consider the technological aspects of application development, but also the business and human aspects. webMethods Developer Portal delivers all these capabilities (and more!) for API Marketplace owners, providers, and consumers. It gives you all the out-of-the-box features and flexibility to create a successful marketplace. Why don’t you try it out?