My Ideal Profile Of Companies Who Are Doing Interesting Things With APIs
06 Mar 2015
When I come across a new company, during the course of my monitoring and information gathering across the API space, I enter them into my company API. Once a company is in there, and I’ve deemed it worthy enough for a closer look, I profile their operations.
For my own organization, and in the spirit of transparency and collaboration, I wanted to breakdown what I mean by profiling. First I start with the basics:
- Name - The official name for any company or project. APis aren’t always clearly defined corporate entities.
- Description - A short, concise description of what a company does. You’d be surprised how hard this is.
- Logo - A clean, simple, medium resolution logo for company. Again, you’d be surprised how hard this is.
Then I dive into the common URLs that I care about, that provide me with the best signals possible:
- Blog - The heartbeat of any company, and API operations. In my opinion, the blog is one of the most important aspects of operations.
- Blog RSS - A simple, machine readable blog stream — blown away by how many companies don’t have.
- Twitter - An active, engaged Twitter account, providing me easy access via the Twitter API.
- Github - A complete, active Github user or organization, where I can access code, and other aspects of API operations via Github API.
- Crunchbase - A business profile of a company, with a focus on the investment, and runway for company, available via Crunchable API.
- Angelist - Similar to Crunchbase a business profile of a company, with a focus on the investment, and runway for company, available via Angelist API.
Then I tackle the API, or APIs, and profile each API they have by gathering:
- Name - A clean, portable name that describes the API, but keeps context of company or organization running it.
- Description - A short, concise description of what an API does — this is another pain in the ass to find most of the time.
- BaseURL - The base url for API calls. The process of finding this, will often determine for me, whether or not an API is worth monitoring.
- Swagger - Doing the deep dive on an API, and generating a machine readable definition of at least the API surface area, and include underlying data model, and authentication when I can.
Then I sweep through the rest of the API program looking for:
- Management Building Blocks - Run through my list of common API management building blocks, and record if any are present.
- Authentication Building Blocks - Track what type of authentication is available for the API, including supporting building blocks.
- Monetization Definition - Profile how money is made around an API, even if their are indirect benefits when possible.
Once done, I have everything I need to establish a robust profile of an API provider, and add them to my monitoring. To assist me in my profiling, I then generate an APIs.son for the company, providing a machine readable version of all the information I’ve gathered in my profiling. This doesn’t always happen all at once, the companies usually queue up, then I go through and do full profiles in controlled sprints.
As with all of my research, you can find the resulting APIs.son files on Github, and as my monitoring continues, I will aggregate more companies doing interesting things with APIs, and as I have the time I will generate full profiles for each one.
If there is a specific company you’d like profiled, please let me know.