"Why Your API Registration Process Sucks"

This is one story I'm sure I will be telling over and over. Its about providing self-service registration to your API, and access to your documentation.

I'm working my way through 78 travel APIs right now, reviewing each of them for a series of travel industry API stories.

I'm only halfway through, and about 25% of them require me to email them or submit a contact form to get access to their API.

I can understand doing this if your goal is to only work with partners and vendors, but all of these APIs came from the ProgrammableWeb API directory. So I assume your goal is to target a wider public audience.

Here is how your approach is hurting you:

  1. As a developer I need instant gratification. I need to make sure your API has what I need. I need to quickly get at your documentation, see your endpoints, and potentially be able to grab a code sample and see some results. If you can't provide this for me, someone else will.
  2. As an API blogger and writer I need immediate access. If I'm going to include you in my story for the travel industry APIs, and showcase what you offer. I need access, without waiting or talking to you, to see the value you deliver, and where you fit in.
Now I've submitted the contact forms and emails for each of these APIs. I've gotten a couple responses, 24 or 48 hours later (some no response). I've already moved on, I see the name in an email, realize its from my travel research, but I don't remember anything else. Even though I have access now, its unlikely that I will return. The moment to make your mark has passed.

What would be the reason for limited access to your API? Maybe you don't have staff or time to manage the potential spammers or other probing type of users that will come through? If you don't have the resources, its likely you won't have the resources to support my needs as a developer either.

Put some thought into why you are preventing access to your API. Why isn't it self-service? You are hurting your growth way more than you know.

If you don't have the resources, you should consider talking to a service provider like Mashery, Apigee, or 3Scale. They can deliver the type of self-service gratification, consumers of your API have grown accustom to.