API discovery helps your API stand out

Did you know that there are over 24,000 APIs listed on ProgrammableWeb alone? There were over 19 million developers working with APIs in 2020, as well.

The API industry is exploding, and it will only grow more pronounced as the years go on. Business owners and developers realize there’s money to be had in developing APIs. This is leading to a virtual Gold Rush as developers raise to capture the hearts, minds, and wallets of their audience.

This leads to the question — how can you stand out in such a crowded marketplace? What makes your API different from the rest in the API directory? And if you’re a programmer, how are you supposed to find the right API for your specific needs?

API discovery.

The ability to be found is one thing that determines if an API soars or sinks like a stone. This means that API discovery is vital for your API’s success.

We’ve put together a thorough guide to API discovery to help you learn how to make your API stand out, get found, adopted, and spread!

Guide To API Discovery

API discovery is a bit more complicated than simply creating a landing page for your API, although that’s certainly part of it. It also ensures that your development process is as efficient as possible as you’re less likely to end up doing unnecessary work.

APIs tend to come in two forms — internal and external. As far as internal APIs are concerned, API discovery makes it so that your team can find existing APIs for a particular application. It can also give you an idea of new features to add to your API to make it even more useful.

For external APIs, API discovery is how others find your API. Even more importantly, it helps your users know how to use your API once they’ve found it.

API discovery is also an essential part of API lifecycle management, as it helps your development team find the right API assets for their projects and helps to make sure they’re maintained and secured.

Types Of API Discovery

API discovery also comes in two major types — manual and automated. Naturally, automation is important if you have any hopes of your API discovery being scalable. You simply wouldn’t have time to document every single feature for every one of your API assets.

Automated API discovery functions similarly to an API specification. This standardized format achieves several goals at the same time. First, it has many of the same benefits of an API specification — it’s easy to automate and scale to whatever size you need. More importantly, this same specification lets others find your API without creating more work as yet another benefit.

The existence of standardized API discovery also means that there are useful and powerful tools for API discovery. These tools can often perform additional functions simultaneously, so it’s even possible to add an API discovery tool without having a whole, separate solution.

As the API industry continues to develop and flourish, there are efforts to make API discovery more standardized. For example, APIs.json standardizes API discovery in a way similar to specification initiatives like OpenAPI.

This standardization allows for simple-but-essential tools, like a spec-driven API search engine. APS.io, which uses APIs.json, is the first-ever API search engine that pulls APIs from a wide array of different sources, all of which are tagged in a variety of useful ways.

API specifications end up having a similar end result, acting as API discovery tools in their own right. There are search engines for Swagger and web APIs. Postman even created their own API network formatted for Postman.

Tips For API Discovery

As we stated at the top, API discovery is integral for anyone working with APIs. For API developers, it’s the key to your API getting found and used. This means discovery is key to realizing your API’s goals, whether that’s monetization or increasing your company profile.

With that in mind, here are some more tips to make API discovery as effective as possible for you and your company.

Document Properly

At its heart, the key to API discovery’s success is essentially the same as successful API documentation. The two can even sometimes be handled at the same time.

You can even think of API discovery and documentation as part of the same process. API discovery will help users find your API. Proper documentation will show them how to use it once its been found.

Make Sure It’s Machine Readable

One of the reasons API discovery is so powerful is due to machine readability. While it’s important to have clear, understandable language for human comprehension, the ability for a computer to decipher what your API is about may be even more important to your API’s success.

If you’re serious about your API’s success from here on out, you’d be advised to look into one of the emerging specifications like API.json.

List Your API With API Directories

Even though automated API discovery tools are becoming more common, you simply can’t overlook API directories if you want your API to succeed. Sites like RapidAPI and ProgrammableWeb generate an incredible amount of traffic. You simply can’t afford to miss out on that potential audience!

Of course, ProgrammableWeb and RapidAPI aren’t the only API directories in the game. Public-APIs is a GitHub repository with thousands of free APIs organized by topic. If you’ve got an open-source or free API that you’d like listed on Public-APIs, or if your API has a free tier, you can read their submission guidelines here.

APIforthat is a more modest API directory, but it’s still worth a look, largely due to its well-organized interface. APIslist.fun is another API directory with a clean, easy-to-navigate interface that’s worth bookmarking. While it’s not as extensive as Public-APIs either, it’s still worth a look. You can add APIs to their directory, too.

API directories can be helpful in other ways, as well. Consider some other API listings on the directories to learn what information needs to be included in your API description.

Incorporate SEO

One of the advantages of API discovery is removing unnecessary tasks and redundancy in your API workflow. We’ve already talked a great deal about the usefulness of API directories and discovery tools. However, many developers will be looking for your API using a good old-fashioned Google search.

If you work SEO keywords and phrases into your API discovery documentation, this will help to capture the search engine traffic. It could even add some SEO clout to your API, as the API directories can serve as inbound links to your other web assets.

API Discovery: Final Thoughts

The API industry isn’t going to become less competitive. As we’ve seen, 7,000 new APIs were launched in a single year. How many will the next year bring? What about the year after that?

Things like API specifications have been integral in the industry’s rapid acceleration and adoption. And, API discovery will likely play a similar role. After all, it’s truly good for all parties involved. Programmers can find APIs to work with, and API developers get a much wider audience. It’s a win-win, for all involved.