Reimagining the Box Developer Experience
Since the very early days of Box, developers have played a critical role in our journey to transform the way people and organizations work. From integrating Box with hundreds of leading cloud applications to building groundbreaking software products using our content API, the way developers use our platform extends Box's potential in ways we never could have imagined. And to continue being successful, developers need a world-class experience and set of tools to help them create amazing applications.
That's why today, we're introducing several improvements to our developer experience, including crowdsourcing our API documentation to tap into the expertise of our growing community.
Crowd-sourcing our Documentation with Suggest Edits
One of the most important parts of any developer’s journey with a new API is exploring the documentation to understand how the API can be used. Unfortunately, a lot of companies struggle to create and maintain documentation and it is often treated as an afterthought. At Box, we invest a lot of time and resources in our making our documentation as comprehensive as possible, but we don't always have the context and perspective on the job for which a developer is looking to use our API. Box helps millions of users collaborate on their content every day using the Box apps and we're bringing that same power to our documentation.
Starting today, developers can suggest changes and additions to the Box API documentation. These changes, similar to a Github pull request, will then be reviewed and approved by the Box Developer Relations team. Once the changes have been approved, they’ll be published to our live documentation. Not only will this improve the documentation, but it will help us better understand what's important to our developer community and prioritize our internal efforts as well.
Suggesting edits to our documentation is simple. When you visit docs.box.com, you’ll now see a button to “Suggest Edits” on the right hand side of any guide or reference content. When you click this button, you’ll be prompted to authenticate to our documentation site using your Box account. Once you've authenticated, you're now a contributor to the Box API documentation.
You can modify the existing documentation using the editor or add new elements like code samples or callouts using the buttons on the right side. Once you've completed your edits, simply hit the "Submit Suggest Edits" button on the top-right. You can also add a message explaining your changes. From there, we'll review your changes and, if everything looks good, publish them to our live documentation. We'll be on the lookout for our top contributors and make sure you're recognized for your efforts.
Testing the Box API with Interactive Documentation
Beyond just reading the documentation, we know developers will want to get hands on with API's to see exactly how they work. While there are a number of ways you can test an API (using a tool like Postman), we wanted to bring that experience directly into our documentation with a more interactive documentation experience. Starting today, you can test the Box API using your own parameters from right within our reference documentation. Now, you can read about the API and test it out in one place instead of having to toggle between tools.
Seeing our API in Action with API Navigator
Box’s API provides a number of different capabilities to handle files in an application. From uploading a file to displaying a file to searching for files, different endpoints of our API can be chained together to power a file component of any application. But sometimes, it can be hard to understand how these different endpoints fit together and how they might help you in an application you’re building. So, we’re unveiling a new tool for developers to see our API in action called API Navigator.
API Navigator is a web application that allows you to explore how our API can be used in an application and see corresponding API requests and responses in real-time. You can use API Navigator to learn how Box API features like metadata, search, watermarking, preview, and more could work in an application you're building. API Navigator has a split-screen view that allows you to see an example user interface on one side and the corresponding API requests and responses on the other side.
You can check out API Navigator by clicking here. When prompted to log in, you can use choose to authenticate with Box or a Google account.
Let us know what you think about this new tool! Feel free to tweet at us (@BoxPlatform) with your thoughts about API Navigator.
Creating and Managing Apps with the Box Developer Console
Once you’ve got an understanding of what you can do with the API and you’re eager to get started, the next step is to create an app, configure your settings, grab your API key and start building.
To make building with our API as easier than ever before, we’re launching a brand new Box Developer Console. The all new Box Developer Console includes a refreshed user interface, guided walkthroughs for configuring applications based on your use case, easy access to support and reference documentation, and a simple mechanism to submit bugs and other feedback. It also leverages the same design language we just rolled out across the Box web and mobile apps and provides a foundation for us to introduce new administrative functionality to developers building with our API.
The new Box Developer Console is available today in beta. You can enable it on your account with a simple cookie switch by clicking here.
At Box, we obsess over the experience of our users and this includes developers. Like our friends at Zapier, we consider our developer experience to be a crucial part of our product – from the first time you visit our developer site to creating your first app to managing multiple production applications leveraging our API, your experience as a developer should be completely frictionless with resources provided along the way. the team walked through the key components of a great developer experience.
If you have any feedback or questions about our developer experience, or anything else having to do with the Box API, feel free to reach out to us on Twitter or post in the Box Developer Forum.