You probably don’t need this explanation, but we’ll go over some basics for clarity.
"An application programming interface is an interface or communication protocol between different parts of a computer program intended to simplify the implementation and maintenance of software."
Having good API developers is crucial to your relationship with the technology community. APIs are to developers what the UI is to users – they allow you to interface and exchange data with the software, pushing and pulling what developers need. Companies like Google and Facebook have some of the most popular APIs out there – the Google API allows you to use data from maps, search, translate, and countless other features. The Facebook Developer API allows you to make calls to their massive database of users, pulling publicly available information and allowing you to push data to pages. Current social media posting platforms make ample use of the Facebook Graph API to post to pages without having to navigate to Facebook.com. More and more products are finding ways to integrate with each other – a good API is at the core of this communication.
Creating a functional API means allowing you to connect your own product to others easily, dramatically increasing your technological capabilities. A good API can be used across a wide variety of technology stacks – preventing your product from being backed into a corner and reliant on specific technologies. The best API developers have been reliant on this principle from the get-go. Google and Facebook have long championed the well documented (we’ll get to this one in a second) and technology agnostic API.
Don’t build an API with one use-case in mind, you would never do the same for your product.
An API is as good as the documentation that supports it. Developing a good API and providing equally high-quality documentation is the ultimate recipe for success. Good documentation increases use of your API and increases the use of your product. Google has massively impacted the use of its products by having accessible, usable, and well documented APIs. Google Maps remains one of the most used navigation applications, thanks in no small part to the maps API. Their documentation has helped nurture their developer community. All developers appreciate good documentation, API developers should have a special appreciation for great documentation.
“APIs are really that secret sauce that makes things possible”
-Carl Kennedy, Coca-Cola
Without developers using an advocate for your solution, it is hard to conclusively say that your solution is offering all that it claims it is. Developers see through marketing pitches and understand what your true capabilities are. Word of mouth is always the best way to increase your user base, but it’s also the hardest to earn. By supporting your developer community and remaining active and engaged, you build rapport that is not easily lost. With a good API – you attract good developers who evangelize for your product.
Good APIs enable developers to leverage your product and services at the same time as other well-built APIs, this allows your product to become a part of large, complex workflows that deliver data across many different channels. Large organizations will be extremely hesitant to work with a company with a poorly documented and built API.
Companies like Kloudless have found success as an API integrator, simply providing access to many APIs through one consolidate version. When services crop of simply trying to make API usage easier, you should be extremely wary of how your API is designed. Putting the user first is at the center of all good design, for an API those users are external developers. Make sure you’re developing your API with them in mind. The future of all APIs is extremely well documented, and developer centered, make sure yours are too.
If you decide that it is valuable and profitable for your business to have custom software, fivestar* can develop solutions that centralize workflows, optimize processes, and enable decision-making through real-time data and business intelligence.