Adnan Siddiqui - Practice Lead

Unifying Developer Experience: The Key to Successful API Adoption

The consumer experience, also known as developer experience (DX), is a critical factor in API adoption, usage, and low error rates. In a fast-paced, product-led environment, APIs that are simple to use and implement are essential. Quick feedback cycles from idea to delivery are necessary to maximize the potential of this working method.

Full-life cycle API management platforms offer a solution for consumers to find APIs, read their documentation, and even test drive APIs in a sandbox environment. However, these solutions are typically limited to the APIs running on that particular platform. If you have multiple platforms, this can be a problem. For example, if you're building a new all-in integration platform but still need to support a legacy one to access certain services and APIs, you'll face difficulties in unifying your developer experience.

A good developer experience includes API discovery through a developer portal, which is a component of full-life cycle API management platforms. The developer portal houses the API catalog, which contains all APIs available to developers. It should have a searchable API catalog, access to API specifications (such as Swagger, OpenAPI, or AsyncAPI), documentation on how to use the API and what to expect, and code samples or SDKs. Developers can also request access to needed APIs, request new API keys, and disable API keys if they are compromised.

Another aspect of a great developer experience is testability. Developers who are new to an API or its domain can learn faster if they can test the API by issuing calls. Sandboxes provide a separate testing environment, a mocking service that creates valid responses, and a mocking service that creates wrong responses or error conditions.

Having a unified developer experience is crucial for API implementation and adoption. When developers have the option to choose between two similar APIs, they will choose the one that is easier to implement, has better documentation, and is actively supported by the publisher. A great developer experience translates into a competitive advantage. Additionally, internal developers also benefit from a company-wide API catalog.

However, compiling the API catalog to capture all APIs is a challenge. Some APIs might be managed with a full-life cycle API management platform, while others are not managed at all. REST or SOAP-based APIs, as well as event-based APIs used in business processes or IoT scenarios, need to be included. Forcing developers to check multiple places for APIs with inconsistent documentation standards and access methods is a poor developer experience that will hurt adoption and ultimately the business.

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