The goal of the DevPortal Awards is to recognize the best developer portals and learn from their practices. In our previous post, we let you know about the jury's opinion on finalists and winners. Here, we share the Q&A we did with the teams that made their portal an awarded success!

Best API Reference Documentation, Decision Maker Documentation

Winner: Adyen API Explorer, Adyen documentation



Adyen winning the Best API Reference Documentation DevPortal Award



What were the biggest challenges in your devportal journey so far?

Many of our challenges will sound familiar to other documentation teams! To name a few:

  • Our products are constantly evolving. Meanwhile, people can't use our products without well-written, up-to-date documentation. This adds many constraints on what we can and cannot work on at any given time.
  • We have thousands of pages of documentation, and a team of technical writers working across multiple products. This creates challenges in keeping both our style and our tone of voice consistent throughout all our documentation.
  • We’ve used new software development practices and frameworks to create better technical documentation. But finding the time to improve both our writing and programming skills has been a real challenge.
  • We’re investing a lot into automation, testing, and linting, to save on manual work. We’re really enjoying the challenge of building the DocOps side of our team.
  • Everyone in Adyen can contribute to our documentation. This brings a wealth of technical and product knowledge, but also creates challenges when it comes to maintaining writing best practices.

How has Adyen's devportal evolved over the years?

Our technical documentation has come a long way. We started with PDF files. Then we moved to an online portal powered by Confluence. Then we automated our API reference using the OpenAPI standard. Currently, we’re using a ‘Docs as code’ portal, built using a combination of Markdown, Git, a static website generator, and an internal CMS to facilitate content creation and editing.

We’re always on the lookout for how we can improve our processes and practices around creating and presenting our documentation.

What's the next step? Any portal plans you can share?

We believe that our API Explorer provides an amazing experience for our customers, allowing them to try our APIs, and learn how our products work. So we’re really happy this received the BEST API REFERENCE award this year!

Next year we are planning on improving it even further and then open-source this tool, to give it to the wider documentation community.

In addition, we are working closely with our development teams on simplifying our integrations and building new REST API products. This should drastically improve the developer experience for anyone that wants to use our products.

What does winning this Award mean for Adyen?

It reaffirms the hard work we’ve put into building a great experience for the developers integrate with Adyen. There were so many strong candidates, and the standard is constantly improving. We hope that this continues (and that we can keep up with them)!

Can you introduce the team behind the portal?

Our team is multidisciplinary with many people contributing to the evolution of our portal. And we’re always looking for more good people to join us!

Has your team seen any solutions of other nominees that your portal could also adapt?

We are always inspired by other portals, and how they solve the problems of their users. And we hope they can learn something useful from us too.

Other thoughts you'd like to share?

We would like to thank the whole DevPortals team for bringing more attention to developer portals!

Best Design

Winner: Mercedes-Benz / developers

Mercedes-Benz / developers winning the Best Design DevPortal Award



What were the biggest challenges in your devportal journey so far?

We entered a completely new playground. This green field approach brought us many learnings and a few failures. A constant challenge was to internally explain and promote our platform. First, we are a car manufacturer. In addition to the sponsors in the IT organization, it was a lengthy process to convince the top management of the various business units. Also, keeping a unified appearance is challenging from time to time as multiple independent departments are working on API topics internally.

How has Mercedes-Benz's devportal evolved over the years?

Starting 2017 with the launch at the Web Summit in Lisbon we have continuously added digital products and developer focussed features. We are very proud being able to offer to the developers a fully connected vehicle experimental API with an integrated graphical car simulator. Our highlight in 2019 is the Mercedes-Benz Mobile SDK for iOS and Android that we launched as first automotive OEM.

What's the next step? Any portal plans you can share?

Even though we won the “Best Design” category award, we are already reworking some key pages of our portal. We believe this will lift us to a new level and enable us to address our target groups better. Besides providing targeted information for developers and startups, we want to improve our offerings for all kind of business decision makers at Mercedes-Benz dealerships and other corporate partners.

What does winning this Award mean for you?

We are very proud of this award, especially since it is our first award. The award is an important recognition and confirmation of our work during the last 3 years.

Can you introduce the team behind the portal?

Surely! The product owner is just one player in the game. We are an internal team of six colleagues focusing on the public developer portal. In addition we have seven colleagues with focus on the internal developer portal. For development and operations the suppliers Codecentric, Goodmates, High-Moblity and IC-Consult supports us. Being able to support the upcoming expansion of platform and products, we onboarded a new development team at Mercedes-Benz Turkey in Instanbul. The platform is growing, so are we.

Has your team seen any solutions of other nominees that your portal could also adapt?

Oh yes, there are many ideas we would like to adapt and integrate in our portal! We want to further simplify the onboarding and like the Amadeus approach of an automatically generated example app very much. Second, we will validate the community features of the other nominees, merge them with our ideas and extend our platform until mid of next year. Letting the community engage and share their solutions as well as getting more feedback and DX proposals will be a priority in 2020.

Other thoughts you'd like to share?

Thanks again for organizing the API The Docs conference and the DevPortal Award. Getting in personal discussion with this focussed community was quite valuable. It was very helpful for us to assess and compare your status with the maturity of other portals from different industries. Mercedes-Benz /developers is very open-minded. Thus, we will further engage in sharing experiences and ideas with other teams.

Best New DX Innovation

Winner: NBG Technology Hub



NBG winning the Best DX Innovation DevPortal Award



What were the biggest challenges in your devportal journey so far?

Our aim for the NBG Technology Hub is to become a self-service, one-stop-shop for our partners and developers. Such a goal poses several challenges that range from identifying valuable business cases and designing the corresponding API products to providing clear API documentation, technical content, and tools that allow for self-onboarding and consumption of our services.

How has NBG's devportal evolved over the years?

The journey began in 2016. We published a simple portal with our first API as part of a cloud API Management platform. The UI and the developer experience was elementary – to say the least! In 2017 we completely redesigned the Portal, and we moved the installation on-premise. As we transformed our processes through the perspective of an API-first approach, we started publishing more and more API products that solved both internal and external business cases. During 2018 and the first half of 2019, and based on our experience so far, we focused on three parallels: We designed and implemented a series of Dx improvements, using technical content and tools (embedded to the Portal or not) that made life easier for the developers. We completely redesigned and improved the responsiveness of the Portal. We integrated the Portal in the org’s culture by offering separate portals with distinct API products internally, to external partners and the general public.

What's the next step? Any portal plans you can share?

In general, we want all of the Bank’s partners to be on-boarded and to develop and curate a tech-savvy community around our Portal. We have built the NBG Race, a platform to crowdsource state of the art solutions of challenging technical problems, and the Developer Studio, our online IDE allowing for immediate consumption of our APIs, as the NBG Technology Hub satellite sites in this context. Furthermore, we have started developing SDKs for popular APIs, and we also focus on smoothing out our partner’s onboarding process.

What does winning this Award mean for NBG?

We think that this award validates our approach, at least in terms of our Dx improvement efforts. More importantly, though, we are challenged by the rest of the awards that we did not win! The remarkable work presented by the rest of the Portals highlights the room of progress we can make in various areas that we are eager to work on.

Can you introduce the team behind the portal?

Such a difficult task! Let us just say that the NBG Technology Hub is an initiative of the Digital Transformation Division, which, together with the support from other divisions of the Bank (IT, Legal, Marketing, Compliance), has induced the API culture into NBG.

Has your team seen any solutions of other nominees that your portal could also adapt?

Where to start? Allow us to restrict ourselves by announcing that we will be looking into the pricing models, onboarding process, and community outreach of the Portals from Postman, TomTom, Nexmo, ThingWorx, Amadeus, and Visa.

Best Onboarding, Best Post-Integration & Maintenance Support

Winner: Nexmo Developer



Nexmo winning the Best Onboarding DevPortal Award



What were the biggest challenges in your devportal journey so far?

Right from the outset, we opted for a home-grown solution to author and render our API documentation. While that approach has afforded us considerable flexibility and is now extremely stable and reliable, getting it to that state has involved a lot of work in recent years and we’re only now really starting to reap the benefits.

Nexmo has always embraced the Open API specification as a way of not only documenting our APIs but designing them in the first place. We were one of the early adopters of version 3 at a time when not many tools supported it and ended up having to write a lot of our own.

Aside from that, the issues we faced in the past are, I imagine, common to most documentation teams: striving to make our docs as concise, consistent and accurate as possible while never quite having enough people to make it happen! I’m very pleased to say that the situation has improved dramatically with the wider organisation of Vonage being very supportive of our efforts to grow the team behind our devportal.

How has Nexmo's devportal evolved over the years?

The Nexmo Developer Platform has grown from a simple OAS 3 renderer to a sophisticated authoring platform with many custom markdown filters. The team behind it has also grown substantially, from a single tech writer and developer advocate to an admittedly still small, but expanding team.

Speaking as a tech writer on that team I can say that the authoring experience has improved massively since I joined a year ago and that has enabled us to be more productive and consistent in how we approach our documentation. Our onboarding team has also done a fantastic job of helping new developers get signed up and making their first API calls in a matter of minutes.

We now have some really nice features such as the ability to display the relevant lines from code samples in the docs and link through to the full source code in our GitHub repositories and also automatically curate lists of relevant guides, tutorials and use cases. We have also dramatically improved the build process by taking full advantage of GitHub actions to enforce certain quality checks before merging changes.

What's the next step? Any portal plans you can share?

We have ambitious plans for our devportal. These include but are in no way limited to:

  • Enabling single sign-on across the entire portal to enable us to pre-populate code samples with the user’s details to enable them to run them straight away.
  • Adding Postman support to our API references.
  • Making the entire site more search-driven.
  • Creating better, more interactive troubleshooting guides.
  • Adding more explanatory content, use cases and code snippets - in our opinion, you can never have too many!

In addition, we continue to embrace everything that OpenAPI v3 offers and are working with the team behind the OpenAPI specification to provide better support for documenting webhooks.

What does winning this Award mean for Nexmo?

This helps to validate our approach. Obviously, listening to our customers gets us a lot of the way there but the recognition of our peers suggests that we are really on the right track.

Although we’re very proud of the positive feedback on our portal that have received from developers, as perfectionists we are always much more mindful of the occasional negative comments. Receiving awards like these reassures us that we’re doing a good job!

Can you introduce the team behind the portal?

On a day to day basis, Michael Heap heads up the Developer Experience team and is a strong advocate for the platform across the wider organisation. Working on the platform itself are our Ruby on Rails gurus: Fabian Rodriguez and Ben Greenberg. Tony Bedford and I (Mark Lewin) write most of the content but also help shape contributions from other team members.

Those contributions come from all parts of the business - from the engineering, from product, from support, and we’ve even had some contributions from the sales team! Although there is a team of five working on the portal daily, we’ve had well over a hundred contributors and look forward to that number growing in the future.

Has your team seen any solutions of other nominees that your portal could also adapt?

One of the many benefits we get from attending API the Docs is not just a chance to see what other companies are doing with their DevPortals but also to learn the rationale behind the changes and improvements they are making. We always come away from these events with a great big wish list of things we’ve seen nominees do that we’d like to implement ourselves. This year I was particularly impressed with Mercedes’ lovely home page and I don’t doubt that it will be a source of inspiration as we continue to refine our own.

Other thoughts you'd like to share?

API the Docs is a great community of people who are all striving to create the best possible developer experiences for their organisations’ APIs. The willingness of other members to describe not only their successes but their failings too, in an open and collaborative environment, means that we’re always returning from meetups and conferences full of new ideas and inspiration. If anyone doubts the benefits that result from attending these events then I urge them to come along to a meetup and be pleasantly surprised.

Best API Business Model, Best Overall DevPortal (Jury Prize)

Winner: TomTom for Developers



TomTom winning the Best API Business Model DevPortal Award



What were the biggest challenges in your devportal journey so far?

The biggest challenge in our developer portal journey so far was to repurpose our developer portal – which was mainly used as a product delivery channel – to a developer portal that provides a 360 developer experience. By offering that 360 developer experience, we can allow users to easily discover, evaluate and even commercially use our products in a self-serve manner.

Community building is a very important aspect of a developer portal. By integrating a blog and forum, we have enabled developers to connect and interact with each other. To establish that, it was required to expand our team with more people who understood the developer community, such as a technical writer, UX/UI designers, product marketing, SEO experts, digital marketing experts, developer advocates and talented developers. Now that we have setup a more diverse and autonomous team, we have been able to quickly enhance our developer portal in a very fast and comprehensive way.

How has TomTom's devportal evolved over the years?

We started our developer portal with the purpose to allow developers to have access to our Maps APIs information and documentation. Our first step was to make it self-serve so that developers could quickly and easily have access to our APIs. Once we achieved that, we noticed that more and more developers were coming our way and we quickly understood that we should also have a self-serve way of allowing developers to, not only evaluate our APIs, but to also to start using them commercially. So we extended our developer portal with a freemium “pay as you grow” pricing model and a credit card purchasing mechanism. When we established this, we were ready to scale.

While we were taking these steps, it allowed us to connect with developers directly to better understand their needs and what makes using APIs and a developer portal most effective for them. With all these learnings and our readiness to scale, we started to invest more in building awareness and developer experience. Amongst other things, this meant making our APIs and the developer portal increasingly user friendly to specifically fit developers’ way of working and learning. The ease of use was mainly achieved by adding more tutorials, developer tools (e.g. API Explorer, Map Styler), sample code, etc… The last step for us was to allow our developer community to connect and share questions, answers and product feedback via our own blog and forum. A good developer portal should continuously evolve based on feedback and an important way for us to capture feedback is though our forum.

What's the next step? Any portal plans you can share?

Yes, we have a very ambitious plan to continue to revamp our entire developer portal in the coming months where we will heavily focus on improving the design and developer experience. We will also enhance our developer portal with more content and testimonials to showcase the many companies which are using TomTom Maps APIs today in their applications.

What does winning this Award mean for TomTom?

This award is a nice reminder and a recognition for the entire team that their hard work is paying off and is also appreciated by experts in the industry. It motivates us to continue to improve the developer experience.

Can you introduce the team behind the portal?

There are multiple teams who are working very closely together to make the portal a success. It’s a fruitful cooperation between our Developer Marketing team, our Product Marketing team and the Developer Portal team. Next to that we work across the entire organization to continuously expand our API offering and to bring the latest and greatest of location technology to developers.

Has your team seen any solutions of other nominees that your portal could also adapt?

Yes, we’re learning every day and we’ve seen some nice things from other nominees when it comes to structuring the documentation and overall developer experience.

Best Community Spotlight & Outreach, Best Overall DevPortal (Community Prize)

Winner: Visa Developer Center



Visa won the Best Community Spotlight & Outreach, Best Overall DevPortal (Community Prize) DevPortal Awards



What were the biggest challenges in your devportal journey so far?

Our goal was to open Visa to the world and allow developers all over the world to get access to data to help their customers. But balancing that open marketplace and keeping our data secure has, and always will be, at the forefront of our business. We continue to work hard to keep our network secure while still providing valuable insights and APIs – that balance isn’t easy, but has been a fun journey.

How has Visa's devportal evolved over the years?

The biggest change has been the speed at which we have grown our portal and expanded our collection of APIs. We started with about 15 and now have more than 50 APIs – including capabilities for issuers, acquirers, merchants, fintechs and more. We have even expanded to host SDKs, implementation guides, imagery and more to help ensure our developers have everything they need.

What's the next step? Any portal plans you can share?

We just launched a new extension of our platform that helps our users understand how to partner with Visa. Partner.visa.com is a new way for our developers to begin their journey and discover news ways to enable our APIs. We will continue to evolve both platforms to ensure we are meeting our developers, and clients, needs.

What does winning this Award mean for Visa?

This is the first award we have applied for in the 5-year history of Visa Developer. The award validates our status in the market and shows that we are building experiences that are useful to our clients. We are very grateful to our community and the Dev Portal awards for awarding us this honor.

Can you introduce the team behind the portal?

We currently have a team of devoted Visa Developer members whose sole focus is on helping our clients in all stages of their development journey. Our team is led by Ilkay Can – Partner and Developer VP and head of the team. She has been with Visa Developer since the beginning. Her team includes a user experience lead, a content strategist, a community lead, an analytics specialist, API onboarding leads, and client project operations who help our clients go live with their projects.

Has your team seen any solutions of other nominees that your portal could also adapt?

We are exploring that now, and are excited to see what our fellow winners have done to wow the community.



See you next year!



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About the author

Katalin Fogas

Event Organizer

Katalin is an Event Organiser at Pronovix.

As a member of the Events Team, Katalin is responsible for organizing meetups and one-day conferences for technical writers and developers all around Europe and North America.

She has 8+ years experience in event management and an additional 2 years in tourism and travel. She holds a master's degree in English and American Studies.