What is an API portal?

And why do I need one?

Key to the new API economy, an API portal is an essential tool for companies seeking to make the most of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). An API portal is a place where developers can go to access a company’s APIs – similar to how the App Store was created as a place where iPhone users could download and use apps. It enables companies to easily share information and data across real-time, distributed cloud and mobile applications. By exposing APIs to a broader community of developers, an API portal can unlock access to new customers, create new sources of revenue and unlock the business value of existing corporate assets.

Why are API portals important?

“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. When a developer is building a new application, he or she can leverage APIs to add capabilities - like mapping - without having to create them from scratch using data that they otherwise might not have access to. 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 extract 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. A developer API portal is the storefront for developers – who continue to get more influence over IT tool decisions – to find, try and buy your APIs. And the companies really doing APIs right make these portals a place to engage with developers - with hackathons, for example.

Equally important is the information businesses can get from an API portal. API product managers need visibility into why developers 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 is the role of portals in business?

Developer API portals are the marketplace where consumers, or developers, shop for your API “products.” In many ways, they 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 APIsHow 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.

How are API portals developed?

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 makes sure that the latest API is being shared to developers.

Our approach to API portals

With webMethods, we have taken an end-to-end approach to the API lifecycle, and an API portal 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