We really love APIs. They're what power Zapier, and many of our team have been built and supported them throughout our careers.
Yet, keeping up on such a rapidly-changing topic as APIs can be a daunting task. There's no best API trade magazine to keep in your lobby, no single spot to learn everything. That’s why I’ve researched API blogs and resources, and narrowed it down to eight of the best to stay up-to-date—the sites our team leans on for the latest developments in APIs. Some will require more commitment to follow than others, but they’ll all inform you of the latest trends, announcements, and discussions happening around APIs.
Reading headlines as they pass by on Twitter is useful (and we’ll suggest some ways to get the most out of that), but blog posts are one of the best ways to dig into a topic. APIs are such a big part of business and software today that many blogs are focused on APIs, in addition to other articles. The four blogs below devote all or most of their posts to the technology and business of APIs.
“The journal of the API economy” gets top billing, not just because I spent several years as its editor, but because of its API directory and longevity. The site was started in 2005 to track these new programming interfaces, of which there were around 100 at the time. Now the site lists over 16,000 APIs–and there are likely many more than that on the web.
ProgrammableWeb’s coverage gives an at-a-glance view of new APIs, current trends, and the occasional controversy. It is still the best way to get a bird’s eye view of what’s happening with APIs. While I don’t believe it heavily influences their coverage, it’s important to note that ProgrammableWeb is now owned by MuleSoft.
Don’t let the name fool you. Nordic APIs covers more than just the Nordics. While founded in Sweden, where it holds an annual summit, there’s no geographic restriction to the topics Nordic APIs covers. It is fair to say the blog is a proponent of Scandinavian design applied to APIs: simple, minimalist, and functional.
Rather than the latest news, you’re most likely to find overviews of the software craft at Nordic APIs. Security and privacy are amongst the topics most commonly covered. You can also subscribe via email, a great way to catch everything.
Over the last six years, Kin Lane has built API Evangelist into a community resource. Kin isn’t a traditional API evangelist in that he doesn’t represent a single API. Instead, Kin attempts to tell the stories of all API providers. To do that, you’ll end up with a mix of news and trends. What Kin does really well is find bigger lessons in current events. That can make the coverage a little less focused than the more journalistic sources, but it’s often worth the diversion.
Every site is bound to have the perspective of the few people that curate it. More-so than the others, with API Evangelist, you’re getting pure Kin Lane.
Full disclosure: this is the blog you’re reading now, but you probably know that. Zapier has been sharing periodic insights here since launching the Dev Platform in 2013. Now we’re publishing weekly posts on API best practices, development topics, and tips for being successful with your API.
Zapier runs over 750 APIs in production, so we’ve seen the good, the bad, and the SOAPy. Each of the API calls we make helps end users connect apps and automate their work—and teaches us what to improve. I’ll be sharing the lessons we’ve learned the last five years. I invite you to subscribe to it, so you’ll always have the latest post.
When I was on the ProgrammableWeb team, I read the blog of every API every day—typically the developer blog for each of their apps. That was my job–to know what was new and noteworthy with thousands of APIs.
You likely don’t need to be that informed. Instead, you should find a handful of API blogs—in addition to those in the first section—that are important to your industry or role. I’d recommend using an RSS reader to get the posts in one place, so you don't have to check every site each day.
At a minimum, you should subscribe to:
- Your company's own blogs, so you read them as others do
- Your competitors’ blogs
- Other company or individual blogs you respect
Don’t give yourself much of a filter. You can always remove a blog later if you aren’t getting value. That said, don’t overthink it, either. Once you’ve added the news and analysis blogs, and the three types above, you’ll have a dozen or more sources. That’s plenty to get through every week.
Now that your RSS reader is the center of your API universe, try adding some discovery to it with public Twitter search. You can use Zapier to create a Twitter RSS feed for search terms. This is where the firehose comes in, but what you find can be worth the overwhelm.
For example, I subscribe to a feed of #api tweets that amounts to about 600 tweets per day. Like any hashtag, you’ll find some promotion and irrelevant content, but the more you read it the better you’ll get at sifting through the noise for signal. You can also switch up the search term, adding your favorite API-related term, or otherwise filtering the results.
Another tip comes from my time at ProgrammableWeb, passed down by founder John Musser. Many talks on APIs get uploaded to SlideShare, where they’re often tagged
apis or the name of their apps. SlideShare has RSS feeds for every tag, so you can subscribe to one or more.
The great thing about presentations is that they're often even more polished than a blog post. Speakers need to condense thoughts into visuals for the audience, and that work shows up on the slides. The downside is that you aren’t always able to get the entirety of the speaker’s thoughts, though sometimes you get lucky and there are speaker notes included.
Every couple months, API thinkers gather somewhere in the world at one of the many API conferences. You could travel to one, or thanks to Twitter, you can follow most of these people and have your own API conference every time you open Twitter. It’s a little less of a firehose than the Twitter search feed from the previous section, with likely many of the same great resources you'd see there.
We compiled a Twitter list of every speaker from the most recent API events for our 100 API Thinkers list. Subscribe to that—or follow the people you find most interesting—to keep track of what they're saying and sharing about APIs.
Don't have time to use Twitter? Just follow the API influencers you want, then subscribe to Nuzzle to get a newsletter in your inbox of the top articles they share.
Keeping up on APIs doesn’t need to be your full-time job, but you can take some of these resources and fit them into your weekly routine. Perhaps you catch up on the week’s news every Friday afternoon, or start each lunch break with a handful of API tweets.
And, of course, we hope you’ll join us on this blog each week for our latest insights into how connected software and APIs drive our future.
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