Chapter 3. The API as a Product

If you build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is really powerful.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon

The phrase “API-as-a-Product” (AaaP) is something we hear often when talking to companies who have built and maintained sucessful API programs. It’s a play on the <Something>-as-a-Service monikers that are often used in technical circles (Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, etc.) and is usually meant to indicate an important point of view when designing, implementing, and releasing APIs: that the API is a product fully deserving of proper design thinking, prototyping, customer research, and testing, as well as long-term monitoring and maintenance. “We treat our APIs just like any other product we offer” is the common meaning of the phrase.

In this chapter, we’ll explore the AaaP approach and how you can use it to better design, deploy, and manage your APIs. As you may have gathered from Chapter 2, the AaaP approach involves understanding which decisions are critical for the success of your APIs and where within your organization those decisions should be made. It can help you think about what work needs to be centralized and what you can successfully decentralize, where enforcement and incentives are best applied, and how you can measure the impact of these decisions in order to quickly adapt your products (your APIs) when needed.

There are lots of decisions to make when creating new products ...

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