A raft of product announcements coming through today from API enablement vendor 3scale. Some cosmetic, some pricing related and some all about improving adoption. All together they make a complete end-to-end API platform that can scale alongside growing organization. So what’s new in the release?
3scale Free Plan
3scale have launched a free plan for organization that have less than 50000 API calls per day. With this plan customers get full functionality – including access to the full content management system that sits behind 3scale. Using the API portal, users can control the majority of management variables around the API and developer signup to it. That’s useful since the free plan is limited to 250 developer accounts.
The Documentation Bandwagon
3scale has integrated Swagger Active Docs into the platform – essentially this produces correctly formatted and described API documentation including documentation published to JSON for re use.
3scale has rolled out a new user interface that should make it easier and more friendly for developers to manage all of their API related activities.
New Support Portal
3scale has eaten their own dog food (or at least taken advantage of what they know best) to build a new support portal on top of their own product – this covers an architecture 101,, tutorials, reference guides and online help.
Luckily 3scale has introduced some substantive stuff (the free plan is cool and the new UI is nice) because, frankly,I don’t want to sound curmudgeonly but I’m intrigued that a number of API vendors of late have come to me announcing their API documentation offering. While I realize that the documentation required for API management is more involved, more technical and potentially more dynamic than, for example, documentation for a SaaS application, I find it strange that anyone is shouting about something which should be standard.
Without effective documentation an API service is essentially useless, and hence an existing product crowing about the launch of a documentation service is slightly counter-intuitive. I put this rant to 3scale CEO Steve Wilmott who is, luckily for me, a nice guy and was prepared to humor my rant for awhile. He agreed that, at least to an extent, simple things get overhyped by vendors, but in defending the release as newsworthy, he asserted that;
Good documentation is key for an API and vendors like us should definitely seek to provide good tools, that’s what we’ve done by adding swagger. Our release is going to name it as a feature but we’re not hyping just that. Our main aim is just to make it easy to do this. For me what we’re doing also goes a bit beyond just documentation. Swagger has a JSON spec behind it to generate the docs. Our portal will also expose the JSON spec and this is a big deal because: others (e.g. programmable web but could be anybody) can pull in this spec and explore the methods on offer on a given API generate their own views of the docs potentially use them to build better services directories.
Wilmott was keen to accentuate that this release is all about creating an end-to-end platform that developers using APIs need – the offering covers all the core API needs including keys, rate limits, analytics, full CMS for the developer community, docs, payments. He also talked up the fact that it’s self serve, that it can be deployed in most infrastructures and that it’s free to use for volumes which may be sufficient for many uses.
3scale is an interesting vendor that, despite sometimes making less noise than its better known competitors is quietly but steadily building traction. By offering a compelling product to developers with low volume API requirements they’re positioning themselves well for future growth.
(Cross-posted @ The Diversity Blog – SaaS, Cloud & Business Strategy)