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Hacks, Workarounds, and Creative Solutions: How Unsupported Use Cases Reveal the True Needs of Your API Consumers


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We’ve all heard stories about the audacious workarounds that developers come up with to extract unsupported functionality from a platform or its APIs. Maybe the workaround came to light because of a sudden spike in traffic on your API infrastructure, or when updates broke an existing third-party integration.

You could try to discourage developers from getting creative with your APIs–or you could embrace workarounds as an essential part of the API design process. Workarounds demonstrate the true needs and use cases of your API consumers, and they might even give you a few ideas on how to solve a feature gap. In this talk, you’ll learn how you can react better and be proactive about gathering this valuable feedback, and how to incorporate it into your API design process.

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Hacks, Workarounds, and Creative Solutions: How Unsupported Use Cases Reveal the True Needs of Your API Consumers

  1. 1. Hacks, Workarounds, and Creative Solutions How unsupported use cases reveal the true needs of your API consumers PRESENTER Karen White @karen_pwhite Event Nordic Austin API Summit DATE May 15, 2019
  2. 2. Karen White Developer Advocate BigCommerce @karen_pwhite
  3. 3. What is a Workaround?
  4. 4. The Texas Exit
  5. 5. (Class C Misdemeanor) The Texas Exit
  6. 6. A workaround is trying to tell you something.
  7. 7. For Product Teams ● No visibility into solutions ● Narrow view of developer use cases For Developers ● Temporary fix ● Fragile ● Difficult to scale ● Difficult to onboard What’s Wrong with Workarounds?
  8. 8. Case Study: BigCommerce Checkout
  9. 9. Developers will find a way (whether you give them one or not)
  10. 10. Break the Workaround Cycle End Users have an unmet need Developers find a solution to meet that need API contract doesn’t account for solution
  11. 11. Creating the Happy Path Expose Public API Provide SDK Native Feature consumes same API
  12. 12. Custom Checkout, Built with Checkout SDK Credit: Mustache Republic
  13. 13. Gathering Feedback Provide SDK Monitor online forums Talk with other internal teams Meet 1:1 with active community members
  14. 14. Don’t Get Too Comfortable with a Workaround
  15. 15. Be sure unmet needs that have workarounds don’t take a backseat when making roadmap decisions.
  16. 16. Developers need to be asked...because they won’t necessarily tell you. ● What would you like a cleaner solution for? ● What workflows could be more efficient?
  17. 17. Summary Listen to your developer community Be sure your product team is looking at workarounds in the right way Provide the Happy Path
  18. 18. Thank you. @karen_pwhite