APIs Are About Iterating On Not Just The Tech, But Also The Business and Politics Of Your API
I’ve been reviewing the recently released Marvel Comic API, because I’m a comic book geek, wait no, because I’m the API Evangelist—no wait it is both. Properly reviewing an API takes time because you need to spend time in the developers area, and actually go through the motions of hacking on an API. So far I’ve registered, spent about 15 minutes looking around the documentation, and wrote a post on their getting started page.
Through a developer lens, these are pretty clear signals that an API provider is more concerned with their own interests, and don’t care about developers success, and it is probably a good idea to steer clear of integrating with the platform. Through the lens of a major publisher who is first entering this scary new world of APIs, it starts to makes more sense. This is why the terms of service is the single most important building block of any API--it doesn’t matter how good your technical implementation of an API is, or how good your other building blocks like documentation are--if your TOS does not encourage innovation, developers will walk away.
Even with these extreme limitations placed on the TOS, I’m still very optimistic for the Marvel API. I agree 100% with Andreas’s analysis, but we also have to also celebrate that a major publisher like Marvel even being willing to play in the API game. I’ve been watching Pearson iterate on their API for over three years now, which reminds me that I should work with Andreas to do a deep dive on the Pearson TOS, and like the rest of us, Pearson is learning a lot along the way.