When Reviewing An API Should I Condemn Providers For A Lack of Public Access?

I’m torn on a matter that I face when reviewing APIs for companies. I get emails from people who want me to review their API implementation, and they state they want public developers to get excited about an API, but the program isn't fully available out in the open. Most often these APIs just have some sort of landing page, which is really just a press release, and email address of someone to contact to gain access.

I’m all for people being able to have any grade of privacy for their APIs ranging from internal to completely public, but I just it difficult when API providers express interest in public developers learning about and potentially using an API, but don't provide any of the common building blocks developers are used to with a modern API. In my mind, if you are courting public developers, you should provide as much information as you possibly can, and manage access at the registration and API access levels.

In the end I guess I'm just exploring the best way to educate companies about the benefits of opening up, provide more information about their developer program, helping them understand that this how it is done with modern web APIs. With the right on-boarding, and API management strategy you can control who actually gets access to your API, and I can't think of why you would want to hide documentation, forums, code libraries, app showcases and other things for an API that is generally available to the public.

In 2014, if you are going to provide API resources to the public, you should expose as much of the developers area and as man of the supporting building block to the public as you can. At least talk through each one, and discuss the pros and cons of this being public. In a world where there are over 10K APIs available, it can be difficult to stand out, and the more public you are, the more chance developers will understand what you are offering.