What is an API Portal?
An API portal is a place where API consumers can go to access a company’s APIs. Application Programming Interface (API) portals enable companies to easily share information and data across real-time, distributed cloud and mobile applications, similar to the way the App Store offers a place for iPhone users to download and use apps. Building beyond this definition of an API portal, they are key because they expose APIs to a broader community of developers, helping deliver access to new customers, create new sources of revenue and unlock the business value of existing corporate assets.
Why do you need an API developer portal?
“Build it and they will come” isn’t a winning strategy for API creators. The most brilliant APIs are brimming with potential. They use common standards to share useful data or services, like Google maps, from underlying systems. Developers building a new application can leverage APIs to add capabilities – such as mapping – without having to create them from scratch using data that they otherwise might not be able to access. And each time a developer adopts an API, it opens up a new channel of consumers for the API creator.
However, building APIs is only the first step for companies to generate value from their data and services. They also need to convince developers to adopt them. If they don’t, they won’t be able to reach new consumers, expand their audience to new channels, and potentially monetize their offering. The purpose of an API developer portal is to serve as the storefront for developers to find, try and buy your APIs. And the companies really doing APIs right make these portals a place to engage with developers, such as during hackathons.
Equally important is the information businesses can get from an API portal. API product managers need visibility into why developers are – or aren’t – adopting their APIs so they can invest in features that drive value. These portals act as a place for businesses to receive feedback from developers so they can help improve the quality and desirability of their APIs.
What are the business advantages of an API portal?
Developer API portals are the marketplace where consumers (developers) shop for your API “products.” In many ways, API portals have become the face of the business, at least to developers. But getting value relies on managing APIs like products. That means tackling strategic issues like:
- How to build the right APIs
- How to extract value from your APIs
- How to attract and retain adopters from the developer community
- How to use monitoring and analytics to understand API usage
In fact, API product managers consider the entire lifecycle of an API from identifying the business need to designing, developing, publishing, testing, securing and monitoring the API. And the API portal plays an essential role.
What information should an API developer portal provide?
An API portal should provide documentation on an API’s functionality so users can share and collaborate, consume APIs and get started without encountering unnecessary roadblocks. API portals also provide a record of APIs as they are updated and changed with new versions.
Developers can use API portals to register applications, update credentials, review API documentation, communicate with the business about API quality and report any bugs the business needs to address.
For businesses, the API portal should provide easy ways to receive feedback from developers so they can improve the quality, desirability and value of their APIs.
How do you develop an API portal?
As with many IT decisions, businesses are faced with the decision of whether to build or buy an API portal. Some of the best API management platforms – including webMethods – offer a customizable API portal out of the box. This reduces the risk of there being any broken links between platform and portal and ensures that API providers are sharing the latest API with developers.
How webMethods helps you generate value from an API portal
webMethods takes an end-to-end approach to the API lifecycle. An API portal built with webMethods will help your APIs live their best lives. We have designed our API portal to be as easy but powerful as possible, allowing you to customize the look and feel while ensuring security through the use of API keys and OAuth2 credentials support.
Our approach offers:
- A fully brandable experience – that looks, feels and acts like an extension of your company
- Automatic synchronization between the API portal and the API management platform (webMethods)
- The ability to add rich information for each API – with examples of how it is used, full documentation and policy details
- A collaborative community environment where users can rate APIs and contribute to open discussions with other developers
- Support for APIs of all kinds – including REST and SOAP-based APIs
- A test environment for developers to see firsthand how each API behaves
- Built-in usage analytics to understand where visitors are coming from, what pages gather most interest, which APIs are popular and which are not
- A built-in search engine for developers to quickly find the APIs they need with full text search capabilities