Diving into DevOps

Box 'Reimagines' Its Developer Experience Platform

Box, the enterprise content management (ECM) and collaboration platform provider, recently launched a new developer Web site. Dubbed "The Box Developer Experience," it features an updated set of reference documents, quick-start guides, tutorials, sample code, a new developer community forum and "office hours" for hands-on support from Box experts and other developers building on the Box platform.

"We are not just serving the head of app development or the chief digital officer," Jeetu Patel, Box's chief strategy officer and vice president of the Platform group, said at the time. "We are serving the developer, and frankly, it's the developer who matters most when it comes to getting traction in the market. Just as we were kind of obsessed with providing users with a consumer-grade experience, we are similarly obsessed with making sure that the developer is getting the most amount of value from us."

Box's obsession has led the company to "reimagine" the developer experience with a group of updates that includes a new visual API navigator, a new developer console, and new interactive and crowd-sourced documentation.

"We really do obsess over this stuff," Ken Yagen, vice president of Box's Platform Product group, told ADTmag. "We have more than 90,000 developers currently using the Box APIs to integrate with third-party enterprise apps; extend Box to internal tools, applications, and system; and to build white-labeled functionality into new software products. We've been listening to those developers and working to find ways to create a new and better developer experience for the existing members of our community and to attract and retain new members."

The new API Navigator is a brand new addition to the platform. It provides developers with a split-screen view, which allows them to see code and documentation in a single interface.

"The Navigator came out of the experiences of our field engineers, who are charged with showing the customer the art of the possible," Yagen explained. "It allows you to, as you're learning what the platform can do for you, peek under the covers at what the code looks like alongside what the application would look like."

The company is also redesigning its Developer Console, which will come with a new UI, guided walkthroughs for configuring applications based on the intended use case, easy access to support and reference documentation, and a simple feedback mechanism for contacting members of the Box Developer Relations team.

The new Box Developer Console is available now in open beta.

And Box has reworked its open doc model with a new interactive API explorer feature in its API reference documentation. The idea is to make it possible for developers, when logged in with a Box account, to interact with the Box API directly from within the Box API documentation. Using this capability, Brewer explained, developers can now make live API calls using customizable parameters and see responses from the Box API.

The company has also developed a process for crowd-sourcing its documentation, allowing any developer to suggest edits and add additional text and code samples to the Box API reference documentation. Once those changes are approved by a member of the Box team, they can be published for the community.

Opening up the documentation in this way, Brewer said, will help improve Box's API documentation, capture additional context from the developer's perspective, and allow Box developers to support one another when learning how to use Box's API.

The company also unveiled updates to the Box Java, Node.js and .NET SDKs. These updates are designed to make it easier for developers to build enterprise apps on Box by allowing them to interact with any endpoint using an SDK. The new updates are available now on GitHub.

About the Author

John has been covering the high-tech beat from Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly two decades. He serves as Editor-at-Large for Application Development Trends (www.ADTMag.com) and contributes regularly to Redmond Magazine, The Technology Horizons in Education Journal, and Campus Technology. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Everything Guide to Social Media; The Everything Computer Book; Blobitecture: Waveform Architecture and Digital Design; John Chambers and the Cisco Way; and Diablo: The Official Strategy Guide.

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