"Fear and Uncertainty Around a Public API"
17 Jul 2011I spend a lot of time looking through various APIs. One common problem I see, are with, what on the surface appear to be public APIs, but once I start looking to get access as a developer, I get walls thrown up.
Often times, information about the API is public. I can browse the documentation, code samples and more, but when I want to play with the API I have to ask for access and wait for approval.
This is different than a private API, where you just want to give API access to a private audience. I can tell these API owners have a good idea, want to open it up to the public, but they are very concerned about who has access to their API.
These businesses are concerned about what people will do with their data and resources. They have concerns for their brand, and legal issues to wrestle with. What will developers do? How will it affect customers? Will it damage the companies reputation?
There are a lot of unanswered questions when launching an API. None of us have all the answers, and can predict what the future holds, and managing public developers can be a lot of work.
What you need is a quality API management platform, with tools for providing visibility into how developers are using your API. If you can't build the tools you need yourself, make sure and check out the API service providers like 3Scale, Apigee, Mashery, Layer7 or Atmosphere.
Next you need an agile process and attitude for evaluating API usage and feedback, then be able to quickly evolve your API to satisfy your business objectives, adding the most value to your brand, while also building a healthy and vibrant developer ecosystem.
One of my goals withAPI Evangelist, is to pay attention to the industry as a whole, understand the best practices for API management and share this knowledge with other API owners so there is less fear and uncertainty around deploying public and private APIs.