We all like it when the API providers who we depend on make using their APIs easier to put to work. I also like it when API providers share the story behind how they are making their APIs easier to use because it gives me material for a story. More importantly, I like it when they do this because it provides examples that other API providers can consider as part of their own operations.
Google recently shared some of the improvements they have made to help make our API experience better. Here are some of the key takeaways:
- Faster, more flexible key generation: made this step simpler by reducing the old multi-step process with a single click.
- Streamlined the getting-started flow: introduced an in-flow credential set up procedure directly embedded within the developer documentation.
- An API dashboard: used to easily view usage and quotas so that you can view all of the APIs that you’re using along with usage, error, and latency data.
If you spend any time-consuming APIs, you know that these areas represent the common friction that many of us API developers experience regularly. It is nice to see Google addressing these areas of friction, as well as sharing their story with the rest of us, providing us all with a reminder of how we can cut off these sharp corners in our own operations.
These areas represent what I'd say are the two biggest pain points with getting started with using an API. The API dashboard represents the biggest pain point we face once we are up and running: where do we stand with our API consumption, within the rate limits provided by the platform? If you use a modern API management platform, then you probably have a dashboard solution in place. However, for API providers who have hand-rolled their own solution, this continues to be a big problem area.
While some of the historical Google API experiences have left us API consumers desiring more (Google Translate, Google+, Web Search, etc.), they have over 100 public APIs. Their approach to standardizing their approach is full of best practices and positive examples we can follow. As they continue to step up their game, I'll keep tuning in to see what else I can share.