Better API Tutorial (and Better eLearning & Marketing)


I recently completed Codecademy‘s Using APIs with JavaScript and Using the YouTube API pair of courses (and started a Using APIs with Python course). While the content was interesting and new to me, I didn’t feel like I knew enough to do anything with it.

Much better and far more in depth is An Introduction to APIs from Zapier. Eight short sections are well-written, with illustrations, and have homework including some interactive exercises. Homework & exercises helpful enough that I set aside time to do them.

The exercises/homework for Part 6: API Design were my favorites because they didn’t just ask you questions—the lesson and questions taught you how to find the answer. Not only that (as if that didn’t represent enough best practices and solid eLearning theory) but I had to find the answers in three different sets of API documentation (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) that were organized differently. The tutorial, however, continuously builds bits of knowledge on each other so I knew how to look, if not where to look. Perfect example of what an assessment should be: Challenging, in context, and a learning experience itself.


From this tutorial, I’m guessing Zapier is a class act because they use eLearning (yes, I consider this eLearning) as a promotional-educational hybrid exactly as it should be done. The tutorial doesn’t hammer (or even mention) using their product(s) for these purposes until the very last moment and, even then, only to basically say, “Hey, you can use other products to help you with this or you might give us a try.”

eLearning and other knowledge transfer can be effectively used to demonstrate expertise and bring people to your site (or social media accounts) if it isn’t a commercial. Especially if:

  • there’s no requirement to give your email or other extra steps for the surfer trying to find quick solutions.
  • the tutorial doesn’t “teach” you, for example, how to use APIs in a way that is dependent upon a given company’s product.

Further on that second bullet: I found many tutorials telling me how to set up an ELK stack that involved using this product or that product to do so and others telling me how to configure it for this or that plug-in. In cases like that, I might have been interested in those products or services if my first exposure to them wasn’t frustrating and obnoxious.


About jotascript

Aiming to please. Seeking to impress.
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