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Kristof Van Tomme - The API portal is dead, long live the Platform- and Interface portals

API The Docs Virtual 2023 Feedback, Metrics and Analytics Recap

This talk was presented at APIDays New York 2023, Developer Success & Developer Portals track on 17 May. We are glad to present the video recording and the talk summary.

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Co-founder, CEO of Pronovix



Internal vs. External Portals

  • Two distinct types of portals emerging: internal focused (platform portals), and external focused (interface portals).
  • Core thing: internal portals are fairly different.

    • Internal:

      • Employee directory
      • API Scorecards
      • Catalogue completeness
      • Gitops
      • InnerSourcing
    • External:

      • Customer onboarding
      • Lead validation
      • Dev Marketing & Sales
      • Monetisation
      • Key provisioning


  • 8 years ago, developer portals were primarily seen as a feature for APIM, they were like an interface for an APIM solution.
  • Aim: reduce friction for developers.

The Present of Developer Portals

  • Evolving further: devportals are becoming a central place for developers for very specific purposes.

Internal portals: API governance, developer onboarding, service catalogue, DevOps portal, InnerSource portal. The different purposes are merging into their own category/tool including any or all mentioned beforehand.

External portals: marketplace, monetisation, partner ecosystem, developer rRelations. External portals are also merging with developer documentation to create developer hubs.

Platform portal (internal portal): enable & encourage reuse. It’s about creating an internal developer platform which will facilitate development inside of the organization.

Interface portal (external portal): constrain how the world interacts with you. It’s about creating an interface with the outside world.

Enabling Constraints

Alicia Juarrero was a guest at Pronovix’s Complexity Podcast, where she explained the role of enabling constraints.

Enabling constraints is what complex adaptive organisms use to manage the complexity of the world.

  • To let in what feeds them
  • To interact with symbionts
  • To keep out what harms them

    APIs are essential for AI readiness, because they help to constrain the information flow.

Platform and Interface

The two economies model:

  • Economy of differentiation: accelerate, novelty, niche, experiment, incubate. Creating differentiated products.
  • Economy of scale: regulate, reduce, reliability, consolidate, refresh. Reducing variability to regulate/create more reliable things and reduce costs.

There is a third economy as well, the Economy of Scope: accelerate, enable, resilience, common resources, negotiate shared value.

Internal Platform Portals

The Scope economy acts as a clutch, it’s reusing what’s already given. It’s about the creation of reusable shared resources that help a company to accelerate development and reduce maintenance and infrastructure costs.

Best way to get a platform is to enable its convergence through a stigmergic process on a platform portal.

External portals

They are about differentiation and capturing value in the market.

  • A developer brand that differentiates your organization.
  • Differentiated interfaces that uniquely fit to a need of a significant market segment.

Core Thoughts

APIs will evolve from products to utilities.

Having one might be a differentiator, but this will quickly become table stakes.

Eventually external APIs will become a utility as designs standardize.

Interface portals: shifting from being APIs only to become their own thing with a broader purpose.


  • Building one portal for all purposes is risky.
  • Splitting these 2 functions (platform & interface portals) gives a clarity of purpose.
  • Processes & tools to connect them.

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