What is an API Marketplace?
An API marketplace is an online space where developers offer their APIs for sale, and other developers can purchase access to the APIs. This aids in discoverability of APIs for their creators, and can help solve purchasers' problems faster. For example, let's say I'm building an application that needs geolocation capabilities to perform its primary function. I could build this geolocation software myself, necessitating a lot of extra time and money, or I could purchase a geolocation API on an API marketplace, and solve my problem with very little work. In the same marketplace, API developers who made the geolocation API increase their visibility and make money.
Are all API Marketplaces the same?
The fundamental idea of buying and selling API access is similar, but there are five different models of API marketplaces.
- Internal Marketplace: A single company's internal marketplace, with APIs owned by teams and departments. The goal here is content re-use between co-workers.
- Partner Marketplace: Similar to the Internal Marketplace, but with a single partner relationship that can also consume and produce APIs with the internal marketplace.
- Closed Group Marketplace: The Closed Group is a marketplace that is common to several organizations.
- Shared Revenue Marketplace: A shared revenue marketplace is an API marketplace that is open to anyone who wants to host their APIs on a known platform. The goal here is revenue.
- Aggregator Marketplace: An aggregator marketplace is where API providers provide APIs to a platform. Then, these APIs or parts of these APIs are taken and made into products that are considered to be value bundles and sold.
These different marketplace models are an insight into some of the different motivations that drive API development. Some are developed for open source, some for profit, some for a little of both, but all of them solve a problem, and are more than just the sale of exposed endpoints.
What's the difference between an API Portal and an API Marketplace?
API portals are deployed by a single API provider and allow developers to understand, integrate with, and deploy against the provider’s APIs. They include documentation, test workspaces, and authentication helpers to onboard users to their APIs quickly. These helpers can be a great way to get started in web coding.
API Marketplaces are open marketplaces like any other online space for buying and selling. Some of their benefits are increased visibility for API developers, community involvement, content re-use, and cross-division usage and monetization.
API Marketplaces exist for different reasons, but are fundamentally similar. They provide APIs for sale to a community of developers, sometimes with additional functionality like authentication wizards and webhooks integration. API Marketplaces and Portals like Abstract are a great place to get started on your web development journey, because of the documentation and in-browser code explorers they offer, in addition to helpful communities and a more visual layout of web services. It beats banging your head against cURL in isolation.