2.4 ShareApril 15th, 2009 — Marieke Guy
It could be argued that open APIs work because people share. Feeding back all you learn into the development community should be a usual step in the development process.
APIs providers benefit from knowing who use their APIs and how they use them. You should make efforts provide clear, constructive and relevant feedback on the code (through bug reports), usability and use of APIs you engage with. If it is open source code it should be fairly straightforward to improve an API to meet your needs and in doing so offer options to other users. If you come across a difficulty that the documentation failed to solve then either update the documentation, contact the provider or blog about your findings (and tell the provider). Publish success stories and provide workshops to showcase what has and can been achieved. Sharing means that you can save others time. The benefits are reciprocal.
“If you find an interesting or unexpected use of a method, or a common basic use which isn’t shown as an example already, comment on its documentation page. If you find that a method doesn’t work where it seems that it should, comment on its documentation page. If you are confused by documentation but then figure out the intended or correct meaning, comment on its documentation page.“
Sharing should also be encouraged internally. Ensure that all the necessary teams in your institution know which APIs are relevant to what services, and that the communications channels are well used. Developers should be keeping an eye on emerging practice; what’s ‘cool’ etc. Share this with your team.
Feedback how and why you are using the API too, a lot of the time, service providers are in the dark about who is using their service and why, and being heard can help guide the service to where you need it to be, as well as re-igniting developer interest in pushing on the APIs.