Dopter Network



We blog about APIs and Open Data. We are Dopter, a company from Helsingborg, Sweden, specializing on API technology, strategy and marketing.

I hate developers - at least how developers are worshipped in API Marketing

APIs are marketed to developers through Developer Portals and by Developer Evangelists, but in doing so we are missing a huge market, ie all the non-developers in the world. Why is this and what do we do about it?

This is my presentation from the API Strategy & Practice conference in Amsterdam March 28, 2014.

Mar 28, 2014

by andreaskrohn

The Marvel API - a case study in how to not respect developers

Last week Marvel released an API giving developers access an impressive amount of data from the Marvel comics. 75 years worth of characters, storylines and events that are part of our modern mythology. It is a great marketing move for Marvel. I am sure it is going to result in lots of cool infographics as well as web and mobile apps which in turn help sell Marvels movies and comics.

The Terms of Use for the API are not as impressive though. If you as a developer invest hours of your time and creativity at no cost for Marvel you are not able to be rewarded in any way, except maybe some geek cred and lots of love on social networks. Let’s do what most developers won’t do and read through the terms…

Cash Moves Everything Around Me

"No Charge. All Apps must be offered free of charge to download or otherwise access and may not contain any in-App purchase features or any other method of monetization." as well as "you may not include any advertising or sponsorship in your App" (except if Marvel provides the ads that is).

So it is clear that you can not in any way make money on Marvels API.

The First Rule of Fight Club

"NO PRESS RELEASES. You may not issue any press release or make any public statement about the Marvel API (and related Content), Tools, the inclusion of any of the foregoing in any Apps (yours or others’) or these API Terms of Use without Marvel’s prior written approval.".

Right, no press release, not even about the Terms of Use. The first rule of Fight Club and the first rule of the Marvel API just happens to be the same…

We Reserve the Right To Sherlock

"You understand and acknowledge that Marvel may be independently creating applications, content and other products or services that may be similar to or competitive with your App, and nothing in these API Terms of Use will be construed as restricting or preventing Marvel from creating and fully exploiting such applications, content and other products or services now or in the future, without any obligation to you.".

When Apples gets heavily inspired by an independent developer it is called getting Sherlocked, when Twitter, Facebook or Marvel does it is is just called business.

So what?

Marvel has the right to do whatever they want with their data. If they want to release it with these Terms of Use they can and they have. In some of the examples above Marvel may even have to be strict against developers for some legal reasons (I am neither a lawyer or an expert in US trademark law). Since Marvel sits on such a treasure trove of data their API will be successful, if this I have no doubt. The Terms of Use will not stand in the way of that since most developers will not care or even read them.

I do however have two major problems with Marvels Terms of Use:

  • Marvel clearly does not value the work developers will invest into using their API and market Marvels products. Actions speak louder than words, so Marvel can make things better by rewarding successful Marvel API based apps with money, noteriety or something else. Good developers are a limited resource and should be treated as such.
  • It sets a dangerous precedent (even if Marvel is by no means the first to set this precedent) of developer unfriendly API terms. It works for the big guys with tights and capes or millions of users, but it DOES NOT work for anyone else in the long run. Unless you are Marvel or Facebook you need to be nicer to your users. As a developer I can just as well spend time with another API as with yours, so do not give me any reason to move on to a competitor.

Last year I worked with the Swedish API License which is an attempt in creating API terms that respect both the API publisher and the developer. If you are interested in getting good terms of use for your API I hope you take a look at that free license, for inspiration if nothing else.

Feb 3, 2014

by andreaskrohn

The Disruptive Impact of APIs

APIs, and their related technologies, are disrupting a lot of different industries. In this presentation from Nordic APIs for Business at Internetdagarna, Stockholm, November 26th, I talk about examples of this disruption as well as how to adapt to the changing landscape.

Nov 28, 2013

by andreaskrohn

Open APIs - Risks and Rewards from Øredev

Last week I spoke about the risks and rewards at the Øredev conference in Malmö. Sweden toghether with Travis Spencer and Hampus Brynolf. My part of the presentation covers everything from what an API is to how you get started using and publishing APIs. Hampus talked about how he used Twitters API to make Twittercensus (an analysis of the Swedes on Twitter) and Travis talked about the security risks and possible solutions.

Open APIs - risks and rewards from Øredev Conference on Vimeo.

Nov 11, 2013

by andreaskrohn

How good UI design makes your API better

In September Dopter’s Kemie Guaida spoke at the Nordic APIs conference in Stockholm, a conference that Dopter also organised (together with Twobo Technologies). The presentation covered how good UI design makes an API better, a very important part of the Developer Experience.

Oct 30, 2013

by andreaskrohn

Many of the Garter Technology Trends for 2014 are powered by APIs

Gartner presented Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014 at their Gartner Symposium earlier this week. It is an interesting read, especially for us that work a lot with APIs. Some of the trends are:

  • Mobile Apps and Applications
  • The Internet of Everything (because The Internet of Things is sooo 2012)
  • Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker
  • Cloud/Client Architecture
  • The Era of Personal Cloud

So more mobile apps, more use of the cloud and more things talking to other things. All these trends are firmly based on software sending data back and forth to each other, and much of that will be done via APIs. We at Dopter are really looking forward to being part of all these trends!

My personal favourite among the trend is Smart Machines about which Gartner writes “the smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT”. If you want to know what this could mean I really recommend reading Accelerando (a book not mentioned by Gartner, their misstake).

Oct 18, 2013

by andreaskrohn

Copyright © Dopter 2013