Arlina Espinoza Senior Technical Lead
April 19, 2023

A developer portal is a must for any organization wanting to participate in the API economy. From banks to industrial manufacturers, companies of all kinds are commodifying and marketing their APIs using Apigee kickstart portals aimed at thier developer community.

In addition to public-facing portals of this kind, many large companies and organizations are building internal developer portals to bring consistency and organization to corporate and institutional environments with decentralized microservice architecture.

  • There are many benefits of creating a developer portal, but they all center on five realities:
  • They help increase awareness of your company through your software and APIs.
  • They drive engagement by enabling partners and third parties to develop co-marketing strategies.
  • They enable the exploration of software offerings by centralizing documentation and reference guides.
  • When monetized, they serve as an additional source of revenue.
  • They help ensure a unified digital ecosystem across large, decentralized companies or organizations when used internally.

In much the same way that design systems foster collaboration, consistency, and efficiency across teams on the design front, developer portals provide the same type of centralization and organization for developers, both internal and external, and help strengthen your brand identity.

Apigee Integrated Developer Portal and Apigee Kickstart

Apigee is an API management solution provider that has been wholly owned by Google since 2016. While it does offer free tiers of its services, its business are its premium offerings for paid subscribers, which include API monetization, PCI-DSS compliance, multi-region deployment in Google Cloud Platform, and traffic isolation, among others.

Apigee offers two different options for creating a developer portal. One is the Apigee Integrated Portal, a straightforward, out-of-the-box product that is easy to build, provides you with Google Cloud hosting, support, and maintenance, and is completely adequate for building basic marketing or developer documentation websites and those not looking to monetize their APIs. That said, the Integrated Portal does not offer the flexibility many API developer portals require and has a slow development cycle. 

If you want to build a custom Apigee developer portal, you want to look at Kickstart.  

Chapter Three architected and developed Apigee Kickstart for Google using Drupal. Apigee Kickstart provides a pre-configured version of Drupal with features built-in:

  • Apigee Edge module, enabling you to connect a Drupal 9+ site to Apigee Edge, Apigee X, or Apigee Hybrid and build a developer portal
  • Integration of the Apigee API Catalog module for API documentation
  • A flexible landing page template
  • 16 demo pages with preloaded content
  • A custom-themed, filterable API documentation landing page with demo content and categorization
  • FAQ, blog, and forums features
  • A customizable site theme
  • Optional installation and customization of the Apigee Monetization module

Why use Kickstart? Consider the following:

  • Kickstart saves you time and effort by doing most of the Drupal modules installation and configuration work.
  • It guides you step by step on installing Drupal Core, integrating your portal with Apigee Edge, and customizing its theme.
  • It enables you to easily customize and brand your website thanks to the color picker tool. 
  • It provides support for other OpenAPI specification file renderers.
  • It’s faster and more customizable than the Integrated Portal.
  • Sample content to work with while setting up your developer platform.
  • It is built in Drupal, operates all the familiar content and media types, and can be extended with contrib or custom modules.
  • Monetization is built upon the Drupal Commerce ecosystem, so multiple payment gateways are supported, along with many other features.

Kickstart will save you time and effort on setup and give you a functional Developer Portal to demo to your team.  Can this be an out-of-the-box production solution for your API developer portal?  Not Really. 

What it does out of the box – and what it doesn’t 

One of the main selling points of Apigee Kickstart is its easy customizability.  While Apigee Kickstart is an easy tool to set up and customize, it’s worth exercising caution before diving into creating an Apigee developer portal. 

Kickstart does a lot out of the box, but it doesn’t do everything, and most clients are going to want guidance from an agency, particularly if any of the following describes your environment:

  • You have complicated single sign-on (SSO) requirements.
  • You require role-based access control (RBAC) on APIs or content.
  • You require the theme to align closely with your company's styling guidelines.
  • You have mailing requirements.
  • Your content requirements are complex.
  • You need to integrate an API publishing workflow into your CI/CD pipelines.
  • You need to implement robust SEO or internal search capabilities.
  • You don’t have a content or API strategy.
  • You need to comply with GDPR or other policies.
  • Your team lacks high-level Drupal expertise.

These items have come up in every Developer project Chapter Three has worked on.  Client teams were under the impression Kickstart did everything “out of the box” only to realize the many required details.  

Let's build your Apigee Developer Portal.

API developer portals are just content portals, and Kickstart is little more than a preconfigured version of Drupal. The real magic comes from developing a strong content and technical strategy before developing your API portal.  Review the list we have provided and make sure there are strong answers for each item. 

If you need help, Chapter Three has been helping companies navigate the process of planning developer portals for many years.  We can help your company build a well-thought-out, functional, and sustainable developer portal using Apigee Kickstart.