5 Reasons Software Teams Will Invest in an API Development Platform in 2019 

  December 20, 2018

2018 has been a transformative year in the world of APIs.  

Open standards like the OpenAPI Specification (OAS) have seen widespread growth and adoption, as leaders in the API tooling space, like AWS API Gateway and SwaggerHub extending their support for OAS 3.0. We have also seen a continued trend in vendor consolidation, including the $6.4 billion acquisition of Mulesoft by Salesforce in March 2019, and the $18.9 billion acquisition of CA Technologies by Broadcom in July 2018.     

Here at Smartbear, we have been thrilled to bring a number of new advancements to our API tooling, including the launch of Swagger Inspector for exploring and generating OAS 3.0 definitions for existing APIs, the release of API Standardization for enforcing API standards at scale, and OAS 3.0 code generation support in SwaggerHub, and the addition of a native Jenkins plugin to support our users’ evolving workflows in the ReadyAPI testing platform.  

In 2018, we have also seen an increased investment from software teams in new platforms to help facilitate their API development. Today, more than 200,000 API providers are leveraging SwaggerHub to standardize their API design and scale their API development with the OpenAPI Specification. We’ve had the chance to hear from several leaders within these teams who have shared their stories of how they’ve been able to support incredible growth or modernize their API workflows by adopting SwaggerHub. 

As we head into the New Year, we wanted to take a few of those stories and highlight some of the reasons why more software teams are investing in API development platforms in 2019. 

1. Standardization is the Key to Scale  

One of the things we heard again and again from API architects that work within organizations with a growing catalog of APIs is that a lack of standardization is one of the biggest strains on their team’s time and resources. 

For most teams, the processes of setting and enforcing standards across their APIs is entirely manual. Often that process involves multiple teams or team members and becomes even more painful as the number of APIs and stakeholders grows. 

This was a problem facing the team at Viasat when they adopted SwaggerHub in 2017. According to Roger Prenger, Software Engineer, Viasat: 

“We have a lot of interfaces that use the same kind of data, and we were struggling with the changing of what the data looked like across the different interfaces. The problem was that it was called one thing in one API, and another thing in another API, and the third thing in yet another API. It was getting confusing to track the data through the systems.” 

In SwaggerHub, Viasat found that the ability standardize data models with reusable components called Domains. With Domains, they could create common models that could be used across APIs, without the need for additional enforcement.  

“We found a way to use Domains in SwaggerHub to have a common basic data structure that we could use across all APIs.”  

2. Removing Communication Roadblocks  

At a time when there are more communication channels than ever before, you would think that collaboration would be a completely streamlined process. Unfortunately, what we regularly hear from new SwaggerHub users is that the dispersed channels of communication — slack messages, emails, JIRA comments — can result in a lack of visibility into changes that are being made across the lifecycle of an API. 

When it comes to API development, specifically in the early stages of planning and design, having a standard format for communicating changes, raising questions, and providing feedback are critical to avoid issues downstream. This becomes even more important when you’re working across teams and across geographies. 

This is something we heard from Scot Hastings, CIO at Bonotel: 

“SwaggerHub drastically improves communication on API development between our internal team and external partners. This is key because we don’t do a lot of API development internally — most of the work is done through our partners, who also work with each other. SwaggerHub acts as a centralized host for collaboration among all moving parts and makes the process very efficient, intuitive, and seamless.” 

Is collaboration becoming a roadblock in your current API development workflow? Find out how Bonotel streamlined collaboration in SwaggerHub.  

3. The Design-First Shift  

In 2018 we saw an increased number of organizations embracing a “design-first” approach to API development. In a survey of more than 3,000 API providers that was conducted in October 2018, and which we will be officially published in January 2019, we found that nearly half of organizations are following a design-first approach for at least some of the APIs that are in development. 

The shift to a design-first approach is helping teams gain alignment earlier in the development of an API, resulting in fewer errors, faster iteration, and the ability to enable parallel development. This is something Travis Koenig, Director of Mobile Development, Realpage discussed when he presented on Modernizing the Enterprise API Development Process at the SmartBear user conference, SmartBear Connect. 

As Travis explains:  

“SwaggerHub enables us to execute on projects in ways that were previously not possible, allowing our many teams across the lifecycle to execute more in parallel and speed up development” 

4. Centralizing API Discovery  

Internal discovery is a challenge that is often overlooked until multiple teams and stakeholders get involved in the development and maintenance of APIs. One of the common issues related to discovery involves how teams find and work with the most up-to-date version of an API. This often occurs when teams are relying on source control hosts like Github to not only store source code, but also API definitions. 

That’s why in SwaggerHub we’ve built functionality to support hosting and versioning of OAS definitions and API docs. SwaggerHub can act as the central repository for teams to explore existing APIs, and for development teams to assign access to the right stakeholders with different roles both designers and consumers of the API. As changes are made in SwaggerHub, those changes will also sync with your Github repository, making SwaggerHub the source of truth for your API documentation.  

Steve Hawkins, Architect at Evosus, Inc explains how improving API discovery in SwaggerHub helps reduce cost and effort: 

 “SwaggerHub has provided an effective portal for both the development and presentation of our API. We use SwaggerHub as a reference document for consumers of our API. We have learned that developers implementing our API are using the code generation options to reduce their effort and costs.” 

5. Outgrowing Open Source Tooling 

As the company behind the open source Swagger tooling, we understand the power of open source, especially for organizations that are trying to scale quickly and want to remove technology roadblocks. But as your API programs grow and become more complex, the need to have tooling to support your workflow becomes clear. 

This is something Cyndi Recker, System Engineer, Viasat discussed during her presentation, Support Rapid Systems Growth with a Design-First Approach, at SmartBear Connect 2018. 

“In the ‘scale up’ phase you’re acting quickly, trying to get everything together. When you pass the scale-up phase, you really need to lock some things down in terms of how you do business. In terms of going to SwaggerHub, that has been the advantage to us. Swagger Open Source is the basis of what you get in SwaggerHub but I get the question all the time, why should I go to SwaggerHub? And I can tell you, as your team grows, as your product grows, as your market grows, this the way to tackle the problem.”  

Having tools that support your growth will help break down silos, improve collaboration, and reduce the friction that can stand in the way of building a scalable API program. And because SwaggerHub integrates the capabilities of tools like Swagger Editor, Swagger UI, and Swagger Codegen into one central platform, making the move to SwaggerHub will be a seamless process for your team. 

Ready to take on 2019? 

We’re excited to see all the great things the more than 200,000 SwaggerHub users, and millions of Swagger open source users accomplish in 2019. We’ll be continuing to evolve our tooling to meet the needs of modern API teams, building new functionality to help you get your job done, and integrating with the tools you trust to deliver quality APIs. 

Make SwaggerHub part of your API journey in 2019. Click here to schedule a demo now.