API Management for Beginners

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API Management for Beginners

API Management for Beginners

In essence, APIs are the glue that connects and keeps apps together. In the last few years, people have started to realize the importance of APIs. As they continue to rise in popularity, so does the need for API design, development, and of course, management.

Basics of API Management

API management is possibly the most important aspect of API development, since it spawns every other area of the lifecycle. In short, you can easily boil down API management to:

  • Portal – This is a single URL that allows the users to find out everything they want to know about your API. It should also provide them with the resources they need to start working.
  • Accounts – All API users need to sign up for an account – this includes both the business and individual accounts – in order to access its resources.
  • Apps – You need to enable each user to register one or multiple apps that will put all of your API resources to good use.
  • Authentication – You also need to provide a couple of ways for API users to authenticate their identity and in turn, get access to your API and resources.
  • Service – By defining what service or services are available across multiple API paths, you’ll provide HTTP access to a wide variety of business services.
  • Logging – Each and every call to your API needs to be logged through the management layer, including web server, database, and file system levels.
  • Usage – You need to quantify usage across all user accounts and their accounts, and then reconcile usage with all of your users.

While there are other things you need to keep track of, the elements above reflect the essence of what API management is all about – the API business. Simply put, if you want to create a clear API management strategy, you need to be aware of who has access to what and how much they’re using it.

Defining the API Lifecycle

Now, the main function of an API is to be consumed by a 3rd-party product. From a business perspective, an API is a unique product. API’s interesting status as both an internal asset and a software make its lifecycle distinctive. It’s mainly fueled by market validation and ongoing user feedback.

The fact that the look of an API lifecycle largely depends on how it functions and what business strategy is at its core is also pretty interesting. However, we can actually boil down the standard lifecycle of an API to a few main stages…

Stages of an API Lifecycle

·         The Analysis Stage

Before you even build an API, you need to define your business objectives. Start by asking yourself whether or not an API is right for your situation. A useful API should either boost your business operations or work toward company goals.

·         The Development Stage

Once you lay out your business goals, you need to define the technical requirements and opportunities that will work with your API strategy. In this stage, it would be wise use a REST API documentation generator to ensure that future users have a complete understanding of your API.  Remember, you need to design the API with both machine standards and human usability in mind.

·         The Operations Stage

As soon as the API is finished, you need to start spreading awareness about it. That means you need to start hosting events, improving your SEO efforts, and using popular social media channels to promote it. Another option is to hire an API Evangelist to promote your API online and offline.

·         The Retirement Stage

Retirement is inevitable even in the API world. Huge corporations like ESPN, LinkedIn, and Netflix have all retired some of their APIs in the last few years. In most cases, factors like outdated plugins, limited use, and opposing financial incentives, are the ones to blame for the retirement.

The Bottom Line on API Management

And there you have it – the basics of API management in a short few paragraphs. Of course, there are some things we left out. If you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.

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