New API Management Providers: Clean, Modern API Portals With ReadMe

It makes me happy to see new arrivals in the world of API management service providers, especially after all the consolidation we saw last year with many of the 1st and 2nd wave of providers like Mashery, Vordel, Layer7, and Apiphany. One of the new API management providers that have emerged is Readme, who is looking to provide an attractive, simple, and intuitive way to launch developer portals for your APIs.

Readme reminds me of some of the landing page tools designed for web marketers over the last decade, to provide informative gateways for site visitors, but ReadMe is all about providing meaningful doorways to our API resources. First, I like ReadMe's definition of what is a developer hub?

  • Documentation - Topical guides, tutorials and troubleshooting.
  • API Reference - Low-level, deep-dive reference material.
  • Community - Provide support and answer questions.

Their definition of what is a developer hub is goes beyond just the technical documentation as what many developers see, and acknowledges that your portal should be about providing the resources necessary to educate API consumers, and potentially build community around their needs. ReadMe provides the essential building blocks I'd expect of any modern API portal builder:

  • Theme Builder - Easily create a beautiful dev community that matches your brand.
  • Editor - Markdown-based drag-and-drop editor makes documentation almost fun.
  • API Explorer - Let users play with your API right inside the documentation.
  • Application Keys - Your users can view their application keys embedded right in the docs.
  • Support - Let users ask questions and request features in the support forums.

Then ReadMe goes a little further to include some concepts that I see in some of the leading API providers, features that go beyond just basic features, allowing you to better manage your API portal:

  • Collaboration - Crowdsource your docs! Users can keep docs current by suggesting changes.
  • GitHub Sync - Keep auto-generated reference docs synced with your actual code changes.
  • Versioning - Maintaining old or testing beta versions of your docs is a breeze.

In 2014, emulating the social elements that Github has introduced into the world of coding, in your API program is essential. You cannot manage your entire API community by yourself, and including your developer in the process is essential. This adds relevant layers to the term "open" that everyone likes to use, providing the roots you will need to actually build trust with your developers, in something that goes both ways, and will also grow your own trust of developed within your own API community.

I'm keeping an eye on what ReadMe is up to, alongside the other API management providers I've been tracking on. I haven't give a lot of attention to the API management space in the last year, as I've been focusing on the faster growing areas like API discovery, design, and integration, but now that I see new players stepping up, I will make sure and give the area equal attention in my research and monitoring.