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    Forrester API Design Report: A Great API Strategy Hinges on Great API Design

    August 29, 2019

      |   Reading Time: 3 minutes

    Digital leaders are leveraging a great API-first strategy to unlock existing functionality using business capability APIs and API products. This facilitates rapid innovation of new digital offerings to provide customers with the best experience possible. Winners are large enterprises building out catalogs containing 1000s of well built, consistent, and reusable APIs which can be easily bundled into new API products – but how do you do this successfully at scale? The answer is via great API design supported by API documentation. Forrester’s API Design Report takes a deep dive into all the components required for successful API design and documentation. We’ve summarized 6 key takeaways from the report, which can be downloaded in full here.

    “APIs underpin digital disruption, and API design is the fulcrum that determines how much value an API strategy creates” – Randy Jackson, Forrester API Design Report

    API Design Report: 6 Takeaways

    diagram showing where API Design and Documentation fits in with disciplines and tool categories

    Where API Design and Documentation fits in (source Forrester API Design Report 2018)


    Here’s our 6 takeaways from Forrester’s report:

    1. Emphasize business APIs and portfolio management

    Business APIs provide direct access to an organization’s business capabilities without tying API users to specific applications

    A portfolio provides a coherent, consistent set of APIs (and services, events, messages, information models) that are available internally (or externally if you choose) rather than haphazardly building to the point needs of isolated projects

    2. Establish product management disciple for business capability APIs and API Products

    API providers should offer, and consumers will bundle, multiple APIs into an API Product. An API Product may combine whole APIs, or only individual operations from multiple APIs

    Manage API Products as actual products – like products, APIs have providers and consumers so treat APIs like products with communities that care about and want input into product futures

    3. Agile plus architecture while identifying centers of gravity

    Business led API design doesn’t happen in isolation, but to allow for collaboration you need visibility and a bidirectional heartbeat and prioritization between delivering innovation and unlocking capabilities

    There will be multiple centers of gravity across roles, initiatives and lines of business with different cadences and priorities – collaboration, agility and architecture create the right balance between freedom/speed and the consistency that ensures sustainable business agility

    4. Set a lifecycle for API design and documentation within the broader API lifecycle

    The discipline of API Portfolio management provides context for designing individual APIs so that over a surprisingly brief amount of time, an organization can build a portfolio that provides full coverage of their business capabilities exposed through APIs

    This becomes easy and fast when you bake in API documentation, domain-driven design, consistency and governance into the process, so it’s part of the (early & often) effort instead of a bottleneck

    5. Use DevOps and continuous delivery to drive automation across lifecycles

    API design doesn’t end once an API is pushed to run, you need a way of knowing the impact of making a change to an API will have everywhere it is being used

    End to end version control and lineage reduce complications as APIs evolve

    6. Great API design and documentation are both critical to world class APIs

    But it’s only part of the API Product/API Lifecycle and your API/microservice/event/digital transformation strategy.


    API Design and Documentation: a solution which works for your business

    When it comes to your API design and documentation you need to craft a solution that works for your business. The ignite platform from digitalML is cited in Forrester’s report as a stand-out solution which:

    “takes an expansive view of API design and documentation, providing the broadest set of features for business and technology collaboration around a core of design and documentation for APIs and API products”

    ignite has many unique features, but it’s ability to create an abstracted service catalog of all your assets as well as provide an end-to-end lifecycle has proven successful for our customers – and can for you too. With ignite, you can design consistent, secure, and reusable APIs and generate runtime code for your preferred tech stack. A robust catalog can help you through digital transformation, safe innovation and IT modernization – fast.


    Interested in what ignite can do for your enterprise? Schedule a demo to see ignite in action.

    About the Author
    AvatarGemma Sindall
    Gemma is a Marketing Manager at digitalML. She has a keen interest in digital strategy and the best ways to merge people, process and technology. Her experience spans Marketing and Client Services in the Technology and Financial Services industries.