Judging an API At First Glance

I’m a little behind in working through my list of new APIs to review. So I’m spending about 3 hours each day going through my list of new APIs accumulated from ProgrammableWeb, Tweets, Bookmarks, Google Alerts and other ways I have for discovering new APIs.

After looking through a couple hundred APIs, I wanted to share some things that stand out, and make me feel someone really doesn't give a shit when they hit publish on their API:

  • Your entire developer area is a PDF
  • Really long, incoherent URL for dev area
  • Dev area is just a page in your help directory
  • You put google ads on every page of your API documentation
  • No communication, support or contact information at all
  • Sign up form that pops up in my face as soon as page loads
  • Require an NDA before I register

These are just a handful of things that make me give an API a C or D grade, which means you probably aren’t on my radar.  But then again if you don't have active blog or twitter or developers aren't talking about you, your API won't register on the radar even with a B grade.

With tools like 3Scale, APIHub and Mashape out there, it isn’t hard to hang your API in a professional way, with minimal amount of effort and resources.

After looking through hundreds of APIs I leave with the same feeling: that there tons of good ideas out there, but 80% of them are just executed very poorly.