This is it! Finally, sell all your things and buy a one-way ticket to a paradise island, robots will automate conversations with customers for you!

Sounds like a dream? We are getting there, slowly, but the space is really promising for API people like us.

At 3scale we predict for 2017 that robots and AI will drive API adoption. Platforms like Facebook, Slack and Telegram are opening their APIs to let third-party developers build conversation-based experience inside messaging applications.

In November 2016, the Barcelona chapter of APIdays was dedicated to this new trend. We had awesome talks from NLP providers like Recast.ai or bot companies like Ottspott and Citron.

Our friends at Hitch also took the opportunity to give the audience an overview of their new product: Hitch API assistant.

The idea behind this new feature is to help API providers scale their support activities by automating level one type of inquiries. The goal: to help developers not familiar with the API get the basics to start working with it, and also address simple questions from the existing community.

The beauty of this approach is that the bot can be embedded in any website where your documentation lives, allowing visitors to find out about the API in just a few seconds.

Let me show you how I have added the API Assistant to my 3scale developer portal:

Create your API profile on Hitch

First, you need to create a profile on Hitch for your API. This will allow developers to follow your API and get notified on changes by Hitch, either via email or Slack.

Listing your API on the Hitch catalog is completely free. You can do it by clicking on Add an API and entering some basic details:

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Add your API reference to Hitch

You are probably already using Swagger on your 3scale account to power the interactive documentation: ActiveDocs. This API description file would be used by Hitch to determine changes on your API.

The URL for your swagger spec is something like https://YOURSUBDOMAIN.3scale.net/swagger/spec/THREESCALE_ACTIVEDOCS_SYSTEM_NAME.json

Replace THREESCALE_ACTIVEDOCS_SYSTEM_NAME by the system name of the ActiveDocs. And YOURSUBDOMAIN by your 3scale sub-domain.

Then, just link this file to Hitch, which will allow them to automatically detect and scope changes on your API, and generate an automated changelog.

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This will also “feed” the API Assistant with knowledge so it can provide conversational support for anyone looking to understand what the API can do.

Enable the bot Assistant on your API

Finally, in Hitch, go to Settings, and click on the turn on button in the API Assistant section.

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Once this is done you should see a javascript snippet, which can be pasted into your developer portal.

Add the bot to your 3scale portal

Now that our bot is enabled on Hitch, it’s time to integrate it on our 3scale Developer Portal. Login in your 3scale account, and go under Developer Portal. You can decide to add it to a specific page or all pages of your portal.

To do so, in Main Layout you can add the JS snippet before </head>, then save the file.

And voilà! You are done! Check your developer portal and have a taste of the future. You should see a bot image on the lower right corner. Click on it and start a conversation :)

You should try to ask questions like:

  • What does it do?
  • How do I get my keys?

Here’s an example from the API Assistant embedded on the Oxford Dictionaries developer portal:

Congratulations on installing the first bot to assist API developers!

Bots are still at their very early stage, but expect more to come this year, and definitively more features from Hitch on this specific API Assistant.

Tell us what you are building, or how you are using bots and APIs!