Q&A: Building the Developer Ecosystem of the Future with Laura Heritage

Since Axway acquired Appcelerator in 2016, our teams have been working to give our developer community even more tools to build great mobile experiences. We sat down with Laura Heritage, Axway’s Director of Product Portfolio Planning, to discuss the work she’s doing to empower developers, the changing API landscape, and our plans for the Marketplace.

What do you think the top challenges facing developers are today?

Developers have so many different experience levels, from the hardcore ones to people who are not as technical, but still want to do some form of creation. Each level has its own challenges. Hard-core developers have the challenge of selecting what platform to invest time and money in, while newer developers need a little more hand holding for coding best practices. I want to give any developer at any level access to the right information as quickly as possible so they can be successful.

How is your work at Axway helping to address these challenges?

I get to help build out the latest technologies in the Axway portfolio, from electronic file sync and share to analytics and APIs. We work closely with our user-centered design team to prototype and POC in order to bring these capabilities to developers through the AMPLIFY Platform (of which Appcelerator is a part). The goal is to enable developers to rapidly build next-generation applications from mobile apps to chat bots in one platform. For example, my team recently prototyped a healthcare medication adherence application leveraging AMPLIFY’s API Builder and App Builder that had an Amazon Alexa, Amazon IoT Button, and Titanium mobile app interfaces.

I also get to define the developer ecosystem and work to lower the barrier to success. That includes determining what capabilities we will use to extend the AMPLIFY Platform. It’s my job to work with partners and developers to revitalize and build out the marketplace, so they can exchange value and services. As the Appcelerator platform transitions to AMPLIFY, you will start to see new capabilities being made available and an updated developer portal to keep you informed and in contact with your peers.

You have an extensive background in APIs and API management. How has this space changed for developers over the course of your career?

At first, the focus was on middleware. People didn’t get that APIs were a key enabler of the API economy. Now, businesses are engaging with developers to create exceptional end-user experiences in a broad ecosystem of things you use in daily life. The lightbulb is a great example of this evolution. On its own, it’s simply a functional object. Then Philips created the first digital lightbulb and opened its API so others could add to the lighting experience. Now, you can download apps that will change the light in your room based on movie scenes. You can tell Alexa to turn on specific lights or order a new lightbulb. The ecosystem is key. Every new device or object the lightbulb interacts with makes it even more valuable to everyone involved, from the manufacturer, to the developer, to the end user.

Once people understand what APIs they should make available and the business models behind them, it becomes a question of how to expose and scale them. In ten years, I think APIs will be the first thing people create to tap into the customer experience and capture new business opportunities (like the lightbulb). We’ll take Alexa’s ability to turn on the lights for granted.

What is Axway AMPLIFY doing to support the evolving API landscape?

Our goal is to help developers of all skill levels, from those who just want to build off a framework to those who want support with orchestration and management. We’ve continued to build out API Builder capabilities to make it easier for developers to design and build APIs through graphical orchestration. We’re also creating new services to complement API Builder, like API Central, which helps secure your APIs with modern security protocols and manages their consumption by partners, customers, and other developers. You don’t need to be an expert in API security to do it.

What are the plans for the Marketplace?

There are exciting changes ahead as we bring more capabilities to AMPLIFY, including a new look and feel, improved developer terms, and richer offerings. The Axway Marketplace will expand its mobile assets with analytic dashboards, new modules, SDKs, and support for API creation, management, and exchange. Developers will be able to leverage 20 new connectors for API Builder and publish their APIs in the Marketplace. Along with increased opportunities to monetize their work and expose interfaces to their services, developers and partners will also enjoy even more favorable terms. These are just some of the continued improvements we’ll be rolling out soon.

What advice can you share with members of our community—especially developers who are just learning the ropes?

You’re never too old, young, unskilled or overskilled to learn something new. If you’re excited about building a mobile app or an Alexa Skill, try it. We’ve got tutorials to help you. We’re making sure the AMPLIFY Platform lets developers tinker with just a little bit of time and brainpower. If there are tutorials, blog posts, videos or other resources that would be helpful, we want to hear about them.