There are many reasons you want to have a roadmap for your API. It helps you communicate with your API community where you are going with your API. It also helps you have a plan in place for the future, which increases the chances you will be moving things forward in a predictable and stable way. When I’m reviewing an API I don’t see a public API roadmap available, I tend to give them a ding on the reliability and communication for their operations. One of the reasons we do APIs is to help us focus externally with our digital resources, which communication plays an important role, and when API providers aren’t communicating effectively with their community, there are almost always other issues right behind the scenes.
A road map for your API helps you plan, and think through how and what you will be releasing for the foreseeable future. Communicating this plan externally helps force you think about your roadmap in the context of your consumers. Having a roadmap, and successfully communicating about it via a blog, on Twitter, and other channels helps keep your API consumers in tune with what you doing. In my opinion, an API roadmap is an essential building block for all API providers, because it has direct value on the health of API operations, but because it also provides an external sign of the overall health of a platform.
Beyond the direct value of having an API roadmap, there are other reasons for having one that will go beyond just your developer community. In a story in Search Engine Land about Google Posts, the author directly references the roadmap as part of their storytelling. “In version 4.0 of the API, Google noted that “you can now create Posts on Google directly through the API.” The changelog include a bunch of other features, but the Google Posts is the most notable.” Adding another significant dimension to the roadmap conversation, and helping out with SEO, and other API marketing efforts.
As you craft your roadmap, you might not be thinking about the fact that people might be referencing it as part of stories about your platform. I wouldn’t sweat it too much, but you should at least make sure you are having a conversation about it with your team, and maybe add an editorial cycle to your roadmap publishing process. Making sure what you publish will speak to your API consumers, but also make for quotable nuggets that other folks can use when referencing what you are up to. This is all just a thought I am having as I’m monitoring the space, and reading about what other APIs are are up to. I find roadmaps to be a critical piece of the API communication, and support, and I depend on them to do what I do as the API Evangelist. I just wanted to let you know how important your API roadmap is, so you don’t forget to give it some energy on a regular basis.