At Hackathons, teams are working with a limited amount of time. With that in mind, when given a choice between multiple APIs at an event it makes sense that developers will naturally gravitate to the most developer-friendly environments that offer the best tools for quickly onboarding consumers.
Costas Pardalis, writing for the APIrise Blog, recently covered a financial tech hackathon hosted in Tel Aviv last month. The Hackathon centered around data-centric APIs that expose financial data. Pardalis noticed that APIs that included a user interface management portal, good documentation, and other helpful features were the most widely used by the participants.
In attendance at the Hackathon was Bank Leumi, a large Israelian bank, Salesforce, and many other financial tech startups promoting their APIs such as Yodlee, import.io, TheThings.io, Built.io, Mashery, and OpenBankProject.
According to Pardalis, some APIs at the event required lenghty authentication processes. Salesforce instead employed a platform that offered an easy method of exposing their APIs. The platform included a visual interface that greatly aided in onboarding developers so that direct calls via REST was not necessary.
In order to successfully promote an API at a Hackathon, providers should consider offering similarly easy access for the participants.
Good documentation that is readily accessible is critical. Providing SDKs, sample code, and client libraries can help onboard developers using the API within specific languages. As teams will often embed sample data rather than integrate complete API functionality, Pardalis recommends including sample data and offering sandbox environments to quickly test request and return responses.
Similar to how Salesforce chose to expose their APIs at the hackathon in Tel Aviv, API providers should consider creating additional versions of the API and a corresponding user interface for these events. A sandbox or dummy API version can be specifically catered for each event to allow varying levels of API access.
With these points in mind, the majority of developers should be empowered to understand and implement your API in a flash.