API Discovery Is Mostly About You Sharing Stories About The APIs You Use
04 Jan 2018
I do a lot of thinking about API discovery, and how I can help people find the APIs they need. As part of this thinking I’m always curious why API discovery hasn’t evolved much in the last decade. You know, no Google for APIs. No magical AI, ML, AR, VR, or Blockchain for distributed API mining. As I’m thinking, I ask myself, “how is it that the API Evangelist finds most of his APIs?” Well, word of mouth. Storytelling. People talking about the APIs they are using to solve a real world business problem.
That is it! API storytelling is API discovery. If people aren’t talking about your API, it is unlikely it will be found. Sure people still need to be able to Google for solutions, but really that is just Googling, not API discovery. It is likely they are just looking for a company that does what they need, and the API is a given. We really aren’t going to discover new APIs. I don’t know many people who spend time looking for new APIs (except me, and I have a problem). People are going to discover new APIs by hearing about what other people are using, through storytelling on the web and in person.
In my experience as the API Evangelist I see three forms of this in action:
1) APIs talking about their API use cases on their blog 2) Companies telling stories about their infrastructure on their blog 3) Individuals telling stories about the APIs they use in job, side projects, and elsewhere.
This represent the majority of ways in which I discover new APIs. Sure, as the API Evangelist I will discover new APIs occasionally by scouring Github, Googling, and harvesting social media, but I am an analyst. These three ways will be how the average person discovers new APIs. Which means, if you want your API to be discovered, you need to be telling stories about it. If you want the APIs you depend on to be successful and find new users, you need to be telling stories about it.
Sometimes in all of this techno hustle, good old fashioned storytelling is the most important tool in our toolbox. I’m sure we’ll keep seeing waves of API directories, search engines, and brain wave neural networks emerge to help us find APIs over the next couple of years. However, I’m predicting that API discovery will continue to be defined by human beings talking to each other, telling stories on their blogs, via social media, and occasionally through brain interfaces.