Sara Reiner | Contributor
January 02, 2013

5 Steps to API greatness


There are over 8,300 APIs out there today and the number keeps growing.  John Musser of ProgrammableWeb recently said at the Business of APIs Conference in San Francisco that he publishes 80 to 100 new APIs in their API directory every week.  Whether you are creating your API from scratch or looking to give yours a complete makeover in the New Year, Musser says there are 5 elements every great API should have:

  1. Your API should provide a valuable service:  Make sure your API shines through and provides a valuable service.  This can be found through your API providing access to the existing value your organization provides or by helping extend old channels through new gateways.
  2. Have a plan and a business model: Just like you can’t have a great API without valuable service, you can’t automatically have a great API because of that great service. Make sure you have mapped out a plan and business model for your API. What is the goal or purpose of the API? Who is your audience who will be using the API? You will also want to make choices about the design of your API like data protocols, security, frameworks, design patterning and versioning. Understanding your audience is key to having a great API.
  3. Make your API simple and flexible: You want your API to be as simple as possible, because simplicity equals easy adoption.  A flexible API provides choices as far as data protocol and format; gives developers control over queries and updates; and offers advanced options like webhooks, streaming and caching.
  4. Manage and Measure your API: Managing things like security, reporting and scaling; while measuring things like volume, quality and trends will provide you with the best kind of feedback that can help you implement change where necessary. Don’t forget, metrics matter.
  5. Provide great developer support: A supported API offers Developers the tools needed for a good experience with the API like guides, references, I/O docs, Terms of Service, Software Development Kits and pricing.  Have communication and community around your product.  Be active and engage with your community in social media and forums and have an app gallery where you can showcase apps being built using your API.

The world's leading brands and enterprise companies use Mashery to manage their API. Our strategy and developer focused teams help our customers use APIs to speed mobile app deployment, scale partnerships and spur innovation. If you are looking for help getting your API to greatness, contact us today. 

BAPI San Francisco Oct 2 John Musser, Founder, ProgrammableWeb from Mashery on Vimeo.