For API publishers, acquiring developers is a pretty fundamental matter. “More developers, more money and reach” goes the thinking. But are all developers of equal value? And is borrowing a developer as good as true developer ownership?
My rather unsurprising answer to both questions is: “No”. Clearly, some developers will be more valuable than others and borrowing will never be a substitute for ownership. Here’s why:
• The only developers that matter are those that are engaged and active
Registration numbers don’t matter. “Key Wielding” this or that is marketing fluff. Looky-loo’s don’t build apps that drive revenue or reach. They may take your time, they may toy with your APIs but they won’t deliver business value. And if they are borrowed, “drive-by” developers, guess what – they never will!
As a vendor that helps organizations publish APIs, my advice is to always own your developer. Don’t get caught up in the promises of vendors lending access to hordes of faceless developers. The only developers that matter are the ones engaged directly with you because those are the ones that care about your API and those are the ones that you can develop and nurture.
This does not mean that making it easy for high-value developers to access your APIs should not be a goal. Giving engaged GitHub developers the ability to use their credentials to access your APIs is smart. There are millions of current, high-quality developers waiting for the right project.
So, pick a vendor like Layer 7 that enables onboarding and Single Sign-On from GitHub and other deep pools of active, engaged developers. And be careful not to get caught up in the developer equivalent of a feel-good payday loan. You will pay a high price in the long run.