The Complete Guide to API Portals in the New API Economy  

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Guy stepping out of some API portals.  ‘focus keyphrase’

A key part of the API ecosystem, API portals are critically important to enable companies to make the most of APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces. In this post, we’ll detail API portals and their uses and functionality, as well as the new API economy and how you can get started optimizing APIs.

What Is an API Portal?

An API portal is a bridge between the API provider and the API consumer. This bridge works to provide key information at each stage of the API's lifecycle.

In other words, API portals are places where developers can go to access a company’s API. You can think of an API portal like the App store or any other application marketplace – a place where users can go to download and use apps.

API portals allow companies to share information and data in real-time across cloud and mobile apps. When APIs are exposed to the developer community, they help unlock access to new customers and create new revenue streams.

The portals are key to enabling API providers to:

  • Expose and publicize their APIs
  • Educate developer communities about their APIs
  • Enable user access and onboarding
  • Generate client keys

API portals allow API consumers to:

  • Register applications
  • Reset credentials
  • Share and interact with API documentation
  • Provide feedback about API usage and API quality
  • Report bugs

API portals empower user interfaces to perform the following operations:

  1. API Discovery, which helps search for suitable APIs based on factors like popularity, and keywords.
  2. API Publishing is performed by API providers with the goal of exposing an API for external consumption. API publishing also publishes supplementary content correlated to API documentation and other information that educates API consumers.
  3.  API Testing’s goal is to verify the functionality of the API by performing API test drives.
  4. API Subscription includes all of the steps that are performed by API consumers to generate client keys and supplemental steps to get authorized API access.

To learn more about API management with DreamFactory, contact us today.

What’s the Difference Between API Portals and Developer Portals?

Developer portals are sites that are used strictly by developers in order to access and organize technical information used to configure and manage APIs they use.

Key devportal features include:

  • A space for developers to communicate on API adoption
  • A list of all available APIs
  • A set of API reference documentation

The key difference between devportals and API portals is that API portals are built for non-developers, and developer portals are typically only used by devops teams. 

Benefits of API Portals

The benefits of a good API portal include:

Increased Adoption

API portals enable users to set everything up in one place and streamline the workflow — from onboarding and authentication to API documentation. With an API portal, there’s one place where everything is set up to boost adoption rates and API usage.

Even better, you don't have to have technical skills to use API portals; they can be used by anyone. This is perfect for growing your user base.

This inpouring of new users allows you to boost your business value and increase your API products' return on investment.

Promoting Innovation

As you’ve probably gathered by now, API portals dramatically decrease the barrier to entry for non-technical stakeholders, allowing them to use and interact with API products, which facilitates more effective collaboration.

This diversity throughout the ecosystem helps companies and API providers leverage the expertise of specialists across different fields, which brings unique perspectives and ideas into all stages of application development.

Track API Success

It’s important to continually monitor your API strategy’s effectiveness. In fact, new research found significant differences between good APIs and unsuccessful APIs based on how integral their API success metrics were to them. Some key metrics you can accurately monitor with an API portal include:

  • Direct and Indirect Revenue
  • API usage
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • API traffic
  • CLTV

Learn more about designing APIs that users will love by reading our blog post here.

Building a Developer-Friendly API Portal

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when building a good API portal:

  • Intuitive Design: You want to optimize the developer experience as much as possible. Make creating a user-friendly and intuitive interface for your developer portal a priority to see the largest amount of adoption and use.
  • Shorten the learning curve: Make sure you include plenty of tutorials and webinars to reduce the learning curve and accelerate application development. You’ll want to include information on your developer portal about the API’s functionality and benefits as well as basic concepts and vocabulary.
  • API Reference: This section documents every endpoint. You want to represent client use of the API for multiple forms of technology and in the most popular programming languages.
  • Multiple support channels: We recommend including an FAQ section to answer frequently asked questions and an online channel where users can send in their queries. You can also set up community forums to help users get their questions answered faster by their peers.
  • Self-service support hub: The developer portal is intended to help developers discover APIs, manage API keys, and much more. You want your API portal to allow developers to accomplish tasks with as little intervention or permissions as possible once they’ve been registered and authenticated.

Automatically discover APIs built on any platform along with their relevant metadata and documentation from your git repositories or using your CI/CD pipelines with the new CLI. Contact DreamFactory today to start a free trial to start reaping the benefits of good API portals and management for yourself.

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