The future of API developer experience with an enterprise: 6 essentials
You can’t have great APIs without great developer experience. Developer experience (DX) is a measure of the satisfaction a developer has with a piece of software or tool. And where web APIs are concerned, DX can set apart a great API from a bad one. But as developer tastes change and new programming trends emerge, developer experience is a moving target. So what does the future hold for DX—especially for web APIs?
Well, many exciting changes are in store for the future of API developer experience. We expect less time lost scouring documentation, and more seamless API integration within tools developers are already accustomed to, like IDEs, command lines, and shared development platforms. Generative AI will empower a more intelligent, speedy API workflow and new collaboration options will take DX to a different a whole other level.
Below, we’ll explore six attributes of the future of API developer experience. Most of these DX trends are already in progress throughout the market today and will continue to be refined and improved upon. By considering these facets, engineering teams can upgrade their tooling and incorporate platforms like Postman to keep pace with evolving DX expectations. And developer users can look forward to much easier integration experiences!
1. Instantly testable
First off, APIs of the future will have far more streamlined onboarding experiences. The days of flipping through documentation to slowly learn an API’s behavior are numbered. Developers can expect a future with more intelligent sandboxes and instant testing of requests using pre-filled inputs.
For example, the Run in Postman button already incorporates instantaneous testing capabilities into the most popular APIs with cutting-edge DX. This change will help programmers quickly reach “Hello World” and decrease the overall time to value (TTV).
2. Organized and relevant
Developers often report being overburdened with many tools, creating information overload. Just a single API developer portal might have hundreds of pages of documentation spanning thousands of individual endpoints, many of which are irrelevant to the task at hand. Tomorrow’s API developer experiences will be far more personalized and auto-generate helpful code snippets that mesh effortlessly into one’s stack.
For example, Postman Collections already provide the ability to organize and reuse API calls, eliminating the need to constantly check dense references. We’re also seeing new design styles enable more targeted API calling mechanics, such as GraphQL for optimizing querying capabilities, and event-driven architectures for reducing redundancy by eliminating polling.
3. Discoverable and collaborative
Developers are rarely lone wolves. Most work alongside other colleagues to co-deliver great software experiences. But the handoff between teammates is often not streamlined, leading to process siloes and a lack of discoverability of internal and third-party APIs.
API developer experience will be more collaborative in the future, likely through a centralized platform that collates API knowledge. For example, Postman workspaces can help share groups of collections to specific userbases, no matter whether these stakeholders are internal, partner, or public to the organization. Coalescing on a shared platform can increase technical reusability and ensure teammates discover the great work of others.
4. Standardized and integrable
Much of the effort surrounding today’s API integrations still involves manual legwork. But tomorrow’s API developer experiences will likely utilize more standardization and abstraction when interacting with APIs. This will both ease the integration experience and localize efforts across development teams.
Easing the internal integration experience is a key concern for today’s engineers—the 2023 State of API Report found “integration with internal systems” to be the highest desire when consuming APIs. Therefore, tools that specialize in unearthing private apps and systems, and improving the integration experience, will only grow in favor.
5. Automated and AI-driven
On that note, new automation and AI will undoubtedly disrupt our current vision of the developer experience as a whole. For example, an obvious DX perk is auto-completion for API-enabled functions within IDEs. Increased automation will also be necessary to cater low-code/no-code options to citizen developers. (Impressively, our data shows that a diverse range of professionals, from DevOps engineers to data analysts, sales engineers, and CEOs, are working with APIs).
Generative AI can already source relevant APIs for a project and produce glue code. Although the outputs of large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT or Bard still require ironing out, their flaws are quickly being remediated. In addition to reimagining the development workflow, AI can also help prevent attacks upon APIs through powerful predictive analytics, making the services we rely upon more stable.
6. Monitored and improvable
Lastly, what’s a good developer experience if it’s not tracked and improved over time? As more and more companies work to enhance DX quality, they will want to monitor their progress and refine their efforts. For example, LinkedIn already invests in monitoring developer happiness with internal tools using its custom Developer Insights Hub (iHub). Spotify similarly measures the ROI of its Backstage platform.
Organizations are adopting other methods to ensure developer needs are heard, like treating their platform as a product and employing developer advocates. Some even instate a modern role, the chief developer experience officer (CDXO), to oversee DX principles company-wide. All in all, the demand for intelligence around DX will only rise as organizations seek to nurture their engineering morale and productivity.
Forecasts on emerging API developer experience trends
We live in an exciting moment—not only for the API economy but tech at large. As you can see, there are countless factors driving innovative developer experiences. In summary, you can anticipate future API developer experience to have:
- Quicker onboarding
- Less information overload
- Better discoverability
- Improved internal integration
- Increased automation and AI empowerment
- Helpful feedback loops
- Improved Collaboration wrapped with enterprise-grade compliance and security controls
This list is not exhaustive, as many other exciting undercurrents will advance the experience developers have building software in the near future. With each new improvement, the life of an API developer will get that much easier. To learn more about the Postman API Platform and how it empowers enterprises, check out www.postman.com/enterprise.