API3 API Integrations Report, August 2021

This is the first progress report for the API Integration team. The first month of the cycle was focused on scaling and process building. We are tasked with the job of integrating Airnode with API3 Foundation’s 125+ API Provider partners that make up the API3 Alliance.

125+ Partners Announced!
125+ Partners Announced!

Integrations

The role of the integration engineer is to map each provider’s API endpoints to the Oracle Integration Specifications (OIS). The resulting OIS is then used to build a deployment package .zip file. The deployment package can then be sent to the provider and deployed using 1 line in their terminal. The focus of the integration engineer should be on quality control and accuracy. API documentation varies widely, so it is important that the engineer can translate any API into an easy to understand deployment package.

We anticipated Airnode integrations to be laborious and designed a few tools to help speed up the process. Both Vansh, our Integrations Engineer, and I are constantly chipping away at the long list of integrations to be done and have made a ton of progress. At the time of writing, we are at 62 APIs integrated in around 30 days.

In the process of integrating all of these APIs, we learned a lot about Airnode, scaling, as well as the API providers and their needs. We have relayed any bugs and features to the Core Technical team, helping them in designing future iterations of Airnode. We have also been working with the Airnode Core Technical team to ensure that integrations can be programmatically validated and corrected before deployment.

Account Management

Account management has arguably become the most important piece in the integration process. We realized with our providers that as quick and painless as the deployment is, it is not always easy for the provider to find the time. Small things that can shave off a few minutes of work for the provider pay off exponentially when it comes to getting cooperation from a provider that has a lot on their plate already. This is where the account manager ended up playing a huge role and eliminating unexpected bottlenecks.

As previously mentioned, we currently have 62 integrations done, with 26 of them being deployed already. That leaves 36 integrations that are done and ready to be deployed once the provider can carve out 30 minutes of their developer’s time. The account manager’s focus should be on catering to each provider’s individual needs. The faster we can coordinate with the API Provider, the faster we can get Airnodes up and running.

One of the most valuable tools that have come from Account Management in the first month is an extremely helpful technical document that can be understood easily by even non-technical members working on behalf of the API provider. This document details the requirements for deployment as well answers common questions which has helped smooth out bottlenecks caused in back-and-forth communications with API Providers. Being able to reference a technical document as API Providers send in questions has also helped with the training of new Account Managers as they join the team. Scaling Account Management is going to be the catalyst to hitting our integration goals on time.

Deployments

The Account Manager guides the provider through the entire preparation process up until the day they choose for their deployment. The Deployment Engineer then steps in to walk the provider through the Airnode deployment instructions and answer any questions. We have been very successful in streamlining deployments with deployment meetings usually lasting around 15 minutes. We have even made the process easy enough for providers to self-deploy. This seems to be preferred by providers who are in conflicting time zones, or are just too busy to do it during work hours.

There have been some common errors during deployments that are usually not Airnode-related. There are a lot of moving parts in the deployment (Docker, Serverless Framework, Terraform, AWS), so the Deployment Engineer needs to have a thorough understanding of the common operating systems. Most of these errors can be prevented with good communication. The Deployment Engineer’s focus should be on making sure that the provider is entirely prepared before their deployment. Needing Account Managers to reschedule deployment meetings with providers who weren’t briefed properly can become a bottleneck when things start to pick up in the future. Our strategy is to take as much effort off of the providers as possible. By cutting down the requirements to the bare minimum, providers can deploy their Airnode in 2 to 3 steps.

Next Month

In the coming month, there are a few things we want to allocate more focus to:

  • Fortify the self-deployment process — We hope to promote it as an equally accessible option to API Providers wanting to deploy Airnode.
  • Fortifying OIS validation — Current tools allow for very robust validation, but we are going to focus more on automating these tools to be run on every OIS on every update. 125+ integrations to manage concurrently will make this critical.
  • Produce and distribute Web3 API documentation to Providers — Gives dApp developers everything they need to start building smart contracts that use Airnodes.

API Integrations are an exciting part of API3. This is the vertical that will connect providers to Web3 and, in turn, will enhance the user experience for every Web3 user. We have to focus equally on speed, integrity, and client satisfaction for this to be successful. We have hit our goals for number of integrations even with the first month being more dedicated to developing the integration pipeline rather than quantity. We can expect the next 2 months to be very eventful here!

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Connecting APIs to Web3 at API3