Shippo Tech

What We Learned from APIStrat 2016

Thu 10 Nov 2016
By Shan Lian

APIStrat Boston 2016

Last week, we were at the API Strategy and Practice conference in Boston. As APIs become more mainstream in every industry from healthcare to finance and logistics, creating great developer experiences is becoming top priority for many companies. 

For Shippo, it was a great opportunity to meet other API focused companies to share and learn about how they’ve built out their interfaces and developer experience. 

We’d like to share some actionable takeaways from the conference for taking your developer experience to the next level.

Developer Documentation is King

Documentation is not about your API. It's about your users. - @mikegstowe

Documentation is the user-facing product of your API. Even if you have a great API, not documenting it (or worse, incorrect documentation) will lead users astray. Providing more information is better than less. Those who need it will thank you, those who already know be reassured and zip past it. 

Invest in Client Libraries

Your client library is the API. - @mbernier

The speed at which a developer (or any user) gets to their first “wow” moment is key. Client libraries are the easiest way to get them there, but what makes a good client library? 

  1. Consumer-driven
  2. Community contributed
  3. Vendor supported
  4. HTTP is the SDK

- @launchany

Companies need to proactively make them a place where developers can onboard, learn, and experience the API, fast. Companies should track client library usage and iterate on the results. 

Segment your Developers

We need to meet customers where they are, create opportunities to play, understand pain points. - @synedra

Segmenting and creating tutorials for specific use cases helps developers navigate to the resources they need. Consider the following questions:

  • What language do they program in? 
  • Are they just tinkering, working with a startup, or enterprise? 
  • What sort of setup and authorization will they need to go through before getting to their “wow”, and how do you make that easy? 

Targeting problem areas and solving them can significantly improve your developer experience.

There were dozens of sessions and many more insights that we will implement to continue to improve the development experience for customers working with our multi-carrier API. 

We want to involve the community as part of our continuing work to improve the quality of our documentation and client libraries. We’ve recently rolled out API versioning, as well as added an extended set of examples to the Python and PHP libraries. Have an improvement or suggestion - please let us know at outreach@goshippo.com or create a PR!

Can’t wait until APIStrat next year to continue to learn from others and give back to the developer community!

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