What Drives Me Crazy When Integrating With a New API?
08 Sep 2012
I was directed to an API question today, that needs to be asked constantly in the space:
What’s your biggest web API pet peeve? What drives you crazy when integrating with a new API? — Wynn Netherland (@pengwynn) September 8, 2012
My response was:
This is such a relevant topic I wanted to continue the conversation by listing the top 10 things that drive me crazy when integrating with a new API:
- Incomplete or Cumbersome Documentation - Definitely something that will keep you from a achieving a successful integration and make you walk away from an API
- Lacking Code Samples & Libraries - The programming language i’m using could vary from project to project, and the code samples and libraries can make or break my successful integration
- Senseless Rate Limiting - Rate limits are an essential part of API management, but placing of rate limits unecessarily and without pressure release options, doesn’t make sense
- No Self-Service Registration - As a developer, I need instant gratification. I need to know if an API will work for me, and getting started immediately will make the difference between using and walking away
- Reliability - I’m depending on an API, if its not reliable, I can’t depend on for my application. There are many aspects of API management that goes into reliability--spend the time to understand what it takes
- Communication - Regular communication with developers goes a long ways. Whether blog posts, tweets or working with developers in person at hackathons, communication is an essential for me to adopt an API
- Usage Analytics - As a developer I need to understand how I’m using an API. As an API owner, you should be tracking every aspect of API operations, make sure and share some of this insight with developers
- Business Model - A business model for both API provider and consumer is essential for a healthy API experience. If the API provider isn’t making money or delivering value, it’s not sustainable--if the developer can’t pay the bills, their integrations will not survive
- Clear Pricing - If I don't know what it will cost for me to accomplish what I need with an API, there is very little chance I will integrate it into my application. I've become very accustomed to knowing my AWS bill, with the clear pricing they provide
All nine of these items go into establishing trust between API provider and consumer. There are some APIs I just trust and others I don’t. Delivery in these nine areas, all feed into whether I trust an API for my business or not
I depend on 21 separate APIs for my business. I’m working to add more to this stack, and as a developer I can identify if an API has value within seconds, and hopefully have it integrated with in minutes or at the most a couple of hours.
As an API provider, make sure and find out what drives your developers crazy while integrating, and see what you can do to reduce friction in these nine areas.