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I’m a firm believer in the power of the freemium model when it comes to APIs. Nothing is as it seems when you are deploying managing or consuming APIs. You have to have room to innovate and iterate without signing contracts or paying too much, before you find exactly the right integration or deployment that works.

This freemium approach to APIs is one of the biggest reasons I’ve been supporting 3Scale since early days of API Evangelist. 3Scale was the original API service provider to offer a truly freemium tier for anyone wanting to deploy an API, and remains passionate about this to this day.

During the API Strategy & Practice conference in NYC last week, I had the pleasure of meeting the SmartBear team, who share a similar perspective of the space, resulting in them launching a new suite of free tools that will help you develop, test and monitor while building API driven software.

SmartBear has published four new free tools for testing and development:

SoapUI is a free and open source cross-platform Functional Testing solution. With an easy-to-use graphical interface, SoapUI allows you to easily and rapidly create and execute automated functional, regression, compliance, and load tests.

LoadUI is a free, open source, Web Services load testing solution. With a visual, drag-and-drop interface, it allows you to create, configure and redistribute your load tests interactively and in real-time. LoadUI supports all the standard protocols and technologies.

DéjàClick is an easy-to-use and powerful addition to your web browser for web macro recording that turns multi-step web interactions into one-click super-bookmarks. Markup and annotate web pages, run web performance tests, and share recordings. Leverage those scripts with AlertSite to measure, diagnose, notify and report on web performance and user experience from an end-user perspective.

Deliver fast, feel-good customer experiences from your online store. The AlertSite for Magento extension enables webstore owners to quickly see at a glance the current availability of their ecommerce site and how it is performing in the real world.

The goal of the new freeware initiative is to put robust tools for quality software development into the hands of developers and testers immediately while allowing them to upgrade to the feature-rich paid versions when it makes practical sense. I sat down with Lorinda Brandon, Director of Strategy, SmartBear Software while at #apistrat, where she said:

The burgeoning API industry is a reflection of a new phase of innovation and collaboration in the software industry as a whole. Businesses and organizations are now sharing their data and functionality via APIs like never before, often for free. In fact, businesses are even inviting the developer community to come together in hackathons to build apps and mashups using their APIs. While we applaud the energy and pace, we also want to keep the focus on building high quality products. In 2013, SmartBear wants to empower this collaborative global community of developers to create high-quality, low-cost (or free) offerings of their own by making even more of our tools available for free through our Freeware Initiative.

I agree 100%. Freemium can be a critical marketing vehicle in the API industry, one that will bring attention to your tools and services, while also providing room for your customers to put tools to use in a meaningful way, that will truly add value to their world--without overcommitting. Once a tool proves itself in someone’s world, they can choose to upgrade and evolve to more premium offerings.

All six tools from SmartBear will be added to my tools section, which is meant to provide a toolbox of free and downloaded software for API owners and developers to take advantage of. SmartBear says this is just the beginning and they will be adding more tools in the future. As they become available I will publish and keep track of via API Evangelist tools.




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