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Essentials for Building an API Community

DZone's Guide to

Essentials for Building an API Community

Are you a dev who loves working with a community of like-minded developers? Then read on to learn how to build your own API community.

· Integration Zone ·
Free Resource

The State of API Integration 2018: Get Cloud Elements’ report for the most comprehensive breakdown of the API integration industry’s past, present, and future.

If you are an API provider ready to expose your API Store to the public then you have come to the right place. Find out all the secrets of transforming your ordinary API Store to an extraordinary one with these simple tips on changes you can adapt in order to attract API subscribers and ultimately grow your API community.

Let’s take a look at what is actually meant by an API community.

In general, the word “community” is closely associated with a group of people with common or similar interest. So in the case of a community with respect to your APIs, it can be interpreted as a group of people who are interested in sharing a common interest in your published APIs and your API Store, which you have used to expose your APIs.

The bitter truth is however awesome and useful your APIs may be to the public, if the way you present it to external users does not give off a positive vibe then the chances anyone would want to be part of it is close to zero. This sends out a negative message to your subscribers. Let’s look at this with a pictorial example.

You can see the two cakes in the image. Both of them are equally delicious and made of the same ingredients but if you were asked to pick one, which one would it be? Probably the second. The reason is that the presentation of the second cake is way ahead of the other. The first cake seems as though no interest was taken on how it appears to others. The same applies to your store. No matter how much effort you have put into your APIs, if you want to grow your community, your APIs need to consist of some essential capabilities which will help to attract and grow the number of end-users.

So What Do I Really Need to Have to Build an API Community?

Customized Theme: One of the essential requirements which you need for your API Store is to have a custom theme. A custom theme implies that you need to brand your API store to represent you and your organization. Make the look and feel of your API store attractive and personalized which makes you stand out from other competitors and attract users to it. Just like the chocolate cake above, your community will want to choose you over the rest. Read more about how to add customized themes from this post.

A Customized URL for Your API Store: A customized URL refers to the URL which you use to expose your API Store. Perhaps you might use a generic domain to host your API store. If you use a generic URL as your API store URL, it will be quite a common one and would not represent you. This will give a negative feeling to your end-users. If you have a customized URL for your API Store it will be much easier for your community to find you as well and would help to create a good impression.

Self Sign-Up for Your API Store: Now that you have changed the look and feel and added a customized URL to expose your API Store, how will users join your community? Will they have to personally contact you? Will they want to go through that effort? How long will that process take? To make sure you don’t have these problems, you need to give external users the ability to register themselves to your API Store. In the same way that users go to and register for various communities, you need to facilitate your end-users' ability to sign-up for and be a part of your API Store. A more elaborate description on self-registration is explained in this post.

Community Features for Your API Store: Similar to how we go and read a lot of reviews when making purchases, online users who come to your store will also want to see what others think about your store. They will want to know how well your store is doing and if it's worth it to be a part of it. For this, you need to incorporate some community features where your API community can rate and comment on your APIs and API Store so that it will give external users a positive feeling about being a part of it.

User Management for Your API Store: Once you have allowed the capability for external users to self-register to your API Store, you still need to be in control over them, as this is your API Store and you should be able to manage the users the way you would want. If you want to get rid of a user, you should be able to delete them or restrict them from certain APIs. For this, you need to be able to carry out user management initiated by you and also control access for certain users for your APIs. You can read more about this process in this blog post on how you can provide certain restrictions for your API community.

Ability to Bill End Users for Their API Consumption: Now that you have grown your API community, why provide all this for free? When it comes to the point that your API community is growing at a rapid rate and your APIs are becoming more popular among the public, you need to start thinking about running this as an API business. With a capability like this, you would be able to bill your subscribers for their API usage based on the criteria you define. Read more about how you can run an API business following this post.

Now that you have gone through the above checklist, you will be able to get on the right track to growing your API community and standing out from your competitors. Make these simple changes today!

Your API is not enough. Learn why (and how) leading SaaS providers are turning their products into platforms with API integration in the ebook, Build Platforms, Not Products from Cloud Elements.

Topics:
api management ,user management ,api consumers ,integration

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