{"API Evangelist"}

How to Avoid Frustrating Your API Developers

If you provide an API, one of the things you will want to avoid is having someone's blog post condemning your company for not caring about developers hit the front page of Hacker News. Because even if you are a giant like Facebook, you really cannot afford to have your API be an excruciating experience (although, yes, Facebook can probably afford it more than others).

Seth Call recently wrote a blog post called The Facebook API: A Case Study in Not Caring About Developers. And while the post is directed at Facebook, Call's observations about how to (mis)treat your developer community offer important insights that any company should pay attention to.

The post lays out several reasons why working with the Facebook API is, in his words, "one of the worst experiences as a developer I have ever had."
  1. Poor Documentation
  2. Poor Testability
  3. No Response to Serious Issues
  4. Constantly Changing API
Call's post is interesting as it chronicles (in great detail) how he has had to struggle (unnecessarily) at almost every stage of working with the Facebook API -- a struggle that could easily be addressed with better documentation and better customer service.

And the latter is an important reminder that while you might not view third-party developers as such, they are your customers.