How to market your APIs and your Mashups


Last week I was at Mashup Camp 6 in Mountain View, my 4th one so far. One of the discussions at the Camp was about how to market your mashups, and that got me thinking more about the subject. Here’s my rant about how to market your API or your mashup that resulted from my latte induced and lack-of-sleep fuled thinking. Since there are, by definition, several components to a mashups there are also several levels of marketing. The first one is where the API provider needs to market the API to developers to they start to use it. The second one is where the mashup developer needs to market their mashup to the end user.

The API Provider
You have this great service that lifts humanity to a new level, makes the sun shine brighter, makes TV sucks less and give the gift of limitless bandwidth to the people (or at least it is really cool). You have even added this great API, now what? How do you get developers to start using the API and spread the word of your great service to everyone and their grandmother?

Well, let’s back up a bit. First of all, do you really have a great service? If you do, then do you really have a great API? Without a product people want to use there is no need to go through the hassle of promoting it. Make sure that the API actually is usefull for developers, that it will enable them to do cool and usefull stuff easier than if they would just hack it all together from scratch. Also make sure that there are plenty of documentation, examples, code snippets etc for the developers to get their hands on to minimize the barrier to entry. Hack together some mashups yourself with your API included in the mix, to give people and idea of what can be done. The key to get an API used by developers is to get the developers excited about the possibilities and get them talking. So give them something to be excited about and something to talk about.

Once all that hard work is done then you can promote your API via directories such as programmableweb and webmashup so that developers can find you. If you have made your own example mashups, then go through the steps below to market that, that is a good way of getting some recognition.

Last, but not at all least, show some love for the developers that has taken their time and built something using your API. Have an example gallery where they can list their creations. Blog about them. Talk about them at conferences. “Link love shall be bestowed upon those who link love showeth”.

The Mashup Developer
For the developer of the mashup there is Google AdSense money on the line, or maybe just recognition from peers. Most mashups result in web pages anyway, so make sure to do all the SEO stuff – have good page titles, have a good copy, have validating HTML, have a sitemap available etc. If there is money down the line for you then also throw some money at advertising (Google & Facebook makes this a walk in the park). All this is standard, but as there are differences between mashups and a regular web page you should also use that to your advantage.

What APIs do you use? What tools have you used to piece things together? Explain how you made your mashup, what the moving parts are. If you used Yahoo! Pipes, then link to the pipes used and explain how they were done. If you used Google Maps (and if you are a mashup newbie then I guarantee that you have, just admit it… “my name is Andreas, and I am a Google Maps addict”) then explain how. If you used openkapow robots, then explain how you developed them. Since API providers are suckers for traffic, just as everyone else, it is not unlikely that they would be interested in adding your mashup (assuming it kicks-ass, which of course it does) to their example gallery. All this creates more link love, more Google baits and really increases the chances of your mashup being found and appreciated by fellow developers. Another plus is that all this also increases the chances to be blogged about, do not forget that bloggers are suckers both for traffic and content.

There’s both money and recognition in entering your mashup in a contest, see programmableweb for a good list of what you can enter right now. You might not have to redo the mashup from the ground up, just add another API to the already great mashup you have made and you could already be a winner. If you go to Mashup Camp you could enter the traditional Speed Geeking (like speed dating for mashups basically) and go home with a shiny new Macbook.

Of course also list your mashups in directories such as programmableweb and webmashup , but by now you should know that already 🙂

Thanks for everyone that discussed this with me at Mashup Camp! For the notes from this session check out the Mashup Camp wiki.

Growing Pains: Mashups for Phising and Spamming


One thing that was clear from Mashup Camp in Dublin was that Mashups are still not mainstream, even if they are creeping closer and closer. John Herren made an interesting comment in his Introduction to Mashups presentation at the Camp, and that was that we will know that Mashups are about to be really big when the spammers and phishers start to use them. So far the spammers are concentrating on email, wikis and blog comments, but maybe the next step is Mashups. I am not sure how that would look, but I can imagine that the ability to combine services quickly would fit phishers quite well, especially if the internet users in general are not aware of those possibilities.

It will be interesting to see how this will look like and how it will impact the Mashup tool vendors and Mashups in general. Spamming and scamming is part of growing up for all internet technologies (arguably for all communication related technologies) so let’s see how Mashups will handle the growing pains.

Mashup Camp fuled by Guiness


Mashups are fun, Guiness is good, Dublin is cool – combine them all and get Mashup Camp 5 in Dublin. The highlight of the Camp was too meet a lot of smart people and talk tech. Some of the highlights:

  • Chad Dickerson from Yahoo Developer Network talked about web site performance. According to Yahoo’s experience 80-90% of the performance of a web site is in the frontend and only 10-20% in the backend. I must say that that these are suprising numbers, but as the worlds number 1 web destination Yahoo should know. So improving the front end performance has a huge impact and Yahoo are listing 13 rules to help you do so, as well as the Firefox plugin YSlow to help you analyze a sites frontend performance. YSlow is already a critical part of my web toolkit, too bad that it is very depressing seeing YSlow’s reports on my websites, I have a lot of work to do! Chad also mentioned Yahoos GUI design patterns that can come in handy for anybodyworking with web design. His slides are on
  • Performance was also a subject for a later discussion where John Herren and others talked about improving backend performance. The two things that really stuck in my mind was to use a PHP Accelerator to precompile PHP code (instead of doing that on the fly for every request) and to use cookies as a light weight free client side cache.
  • There was an interesting discussion about how to find Mashups, especially in a near future when there are mashups built on mashups and the users are not developers but normal mortals. The Search Engines today help us answer the question “what is”, but searching for mashups or apps is more a question of “how do I”. The options discussed covered everything from ranking mashups based on popularity and meta data to using introspection to automatically figure out what the mashups are doing. It would be interesting to have a system that could track the interactions between APIs and Mashups in a way that a developer could take a mashup apart to reuse just the parts he is interested in. is the start of such a system, but it is still only built on the basis of that the mashup developers gives the right meta data about their mashups. Since John Musser from Programmableweb was part of the discussion I am hoping to see some of this implemented there soon 🙂
  • Speedgeeking was as always a part of Mashup Camp, it is basically like speed dating but for demos. 5 minute intervalls to demo your stuff for a new group, and it went on for an hour this time. I built openkapow robots on request and it went pretty well. Building one REST robot to an unknown site every 5 minutes was a risk, but most of them went very well (search for tag “mashupcamp” to find my creations). My Kapow collegue Benjamin demoed his cool Blackberry-LinkedIn-Xing Mashup (also using openkapow). The winner of speedgeeking was the Mashup Camp veteran John Herren and 2nd place as well as the Winner of IBM’s Business Mashup Challenge was Dennis Deery (congrats to you both). Check out one of the most pointless results of the speedgeeking at LOLCatService – the most pointless web service ever.

David Berlind, one of the organisers, have written a good summary of the camp on ZDNet if you want to read more. If you understand Swedish you can also listen to an interview with me from MashupCamp at

All in all it was a great Camp. Not a great number of participants, but the number is less important than the quality of the people. I learned a lot, met great people and came home with my head swirling with ideas. Next Camp is in Mountain View in March and I hope to see you there, if that is too far for you Mashup Camp is also coming back to Ireland next year.

LOLCatService – the most pointless web service ever


I have just launched the most pointless web service ever constructed – It is a REST Service that allows you to search for LOLCats in an easy way so you can embed this absolutely crucial feature in your web apps and mashups. The very idea of it is so pointless that I just had to implement it.

It all started at Mashup Camp 5 in Dublin where I built openkapow robots on request during speed geeking (basically speed dating for demos). Tom from Yahoo asked me to build a LOLCat REST Service and that was such an utterly pointless and stupid request that it stuck. So this whole service is of course pointless, but it is so pointless that it is cool.

The cool part of the service is that it literally took me a couple of hours to do it all, including writing the openkapow robot and building the site. The most time consuming part was to wait for my domain server changes to propagate.

WhatsNext intervju från MashupCamp (sorry folks, Swedish only)


Tidigare idag så snackade jag med Tomas Wennström från WhatsNext om vad som pågår på MashupCamp i Dublin just nu. Gå till WhatsNext och lyssna själva eller lyssna direkt här. Det är väl värt at lyssna WhatsNext fär att hålla sig uppdaterad om vad som händer i Sverige vad gäller webben.

Sorry folks, this post is in Swedish only since I am being interviewed by a Swedish podcaster in Swedish. More aboutMashupCamp in English later…