Adding Search Metadata, Ratings, and More With APIs.json Overlays

I am working my way through profiling many of the top APIs from Twilio and Stripe to AWS and Azure. If you’ve spent any time in these developer ecosystems you know there are a lot of APIs, and a lot of different moving parts to consider. My approach to profiling each API requires an APIs.json for each provider indexing each API, but also an OpenAPI describing the surface area of each API. Ideally API producers provide each of these, but in their absence I do the work to properly index their operations and produce a complete (enough) OpenAPI definition. However, I don’t want to do the work forever, so I do the initial APIs.json and OpenAPI profiling as API.json representative, using a new property in 0.17 we are calling overlays.

My profiling of Stripe, Twilio, and Adyen shows my approach to profiling APIs in layers. I am creating the APIs.json as a representative of APIs.json, since these three providers do not have an APIs.json. I am fortunate that each of these providers have an OpenAPI, which I simply index and cache the OpenAPI for each individual API and provider. Eventually, the APIs.json and OpenAPI will be maintained by the API producer and not myself as an APIs.json representative. I then store these machine-readable artifacts on Github and begin to overlay the changes I need made, and augment with additional information I will need for publishing to that the API producers are not currently providing. Search Overlay

I need to have consistent titles, descriptions, and tags for the API providers I am profiling, and each of the individual APIs they provide, to make for consistent search results in While I do control this currently while I am making the APIs.json, I will not be doing this forever, and I often do not when it comes to the summaries, descriptions, and tags for OpenAPI, and I need them to deliver consistent search results on So I add an APIs.json, and multiple OpenAPI overlays for each API provider I am producing, publishing a completely separate APIs.json and OpenAPI and link them in the master APIs.json using the overlay property. Then when building I can take the original, and overlay the search metadata to make for a more consistent search experience.

API Evangelist Ratings Overlay

After each APIs.json and OpenAPI is overlaid with search metadata, enhancing the titles, summaries, descriptions, and tags, I need to apply my API Evangelist ratings system to each APIs.json and OpenAPI. I take each of these artifacts and run my hand-crafted Spectral rule sets against each one, and output the results as overlay to the original APIs.json and OpenAPIs, indexing them using the overlay properties in the original APIs.json for each provider. This gives me all of the rules that each API, and the operations around them pass or fail on in a single YAML output that I can overlay to the APIs.json, and use to power the ratings in search and on the detail pages of Overlays provides a nice opportunity for to outsource the ratings of APIs to API Evangelist—in this situation, there is overlap between these entities, but it helps me demonstrate the possibilities of using APIs.json overlays.

Other 3rd Party Overlays

Our goal with the usage of APIs.json overlays is to demonstrate how APIs.json can be used by API producers to index their API operations, but allow trusted 3rd parties to come in and offer different services. In this situation, the original APIs.json is created by an APIs.json representative (and soon to be API producers), the OpenAPIs are created and maintained by API producers, but the search metadata is provided by, and the rating system by API Evangelist. In the future you could envision SDK providers like APIMATIC coming in to generate SDKs, and monitoring companies like API Metrics adding status and monitoring data. All of which could be made authoritative by the API producers themselves simply by maintaining their own authoritative APIs.json and linking to these 3rd party overlays using the overlays property. Giving the thumbs up that these overlays are valuable, and something that should be included as part of the index for their API operations.

Defining Overlays With Our Artisanal APIs.json Work

I am 100% immersed in our Artisanal APIs.json work outside my day job with Bloomberg. Any free cycles I have outside of work I spent on profiling APIs. It is tedious work, but I learn a lot. I am getting better at it, with more of the process automated. I have finished up Twilio, Stripe, OpenAI, and Adyen. Now I am adding all APIs for AWS and Azure to their APIs.json index. This includes producing OpenAPI for each individual API, and producing the search and API Evangelist ratings overlays. I have other overlays I would like to do for all of these APIs I am profiling, but I am determined to get the top 100 or so APIs profiled with this approach in the next couple of months. It is a lot of work, so I don’t want to derail my effort by taking on too much—-I am king of doing this kind of shit to myself.

I am really happy with this approach to overlays. It leaves the authoritative APIs.json, OpenAPI, and other machine readable artifacts intact, but then lets me overlay them with what I need for I need the original artifacts as they are so I can rate the APIs as they come from providers, but overlay my perspective with search and API Evangelist ratings. Using APIs.json + overlays along with a GitOps approach is something I believe will scale. Not just for purposes, but also APIs.json purposes. And hopefully others. The process should allow API producers to step in and maintain their own APIs.json and OpenAPIs, but I can keep adding my search and ratings overlay, and move on to other layers like SDKs, PII, and areas. I am really enjoying being down at this level of the API landscape. I feel protective from the often overwhelming and redirecting narrative of Silicon Valley and investors, and able to focus on what matters down in the weeds–keeping me focused on my day job, but still nourishing what I need to make sense of the wider public API landscape.