Working with Products in the API Designer

In IBM API Connect, Plans and APIs are grouped together in Products, with which you can manage the availability and visibility of APIs and Plans. You use the API Designer to create, edit, and stage your Product, and the API Manager to manage the lifecycle of your Product.

The following diagram demonstrates how Products, Plans, and APIs relate to one another.
Note: Plans belong to only one Product, but they can possess different APIs to other Plans within the same Product, and they can share APIs with Plans from any Product.
Figure 1. The hierarchy of Products, Plans, and APIs.
A diagram showing the heirarchy of Products, Plans, and APIs.

Products provide a method by which you can group APIs into a package that is intended for a particular use. Additionally, they contain Plans, which can be used to differentiate between different offerings. Plans can share APIs, but whether subscription approval is required depends upon the Plan itself. Additionally, you can enforce rate limits through these Plans, or through operations within the APIs of a Plan that override the rate limit of the Plan. [V5.0.8 or later]You can also assign different subscription costs to your Plans to differentiate the rates of API calls.

To make an API available to an application developer, it must be included in a Plan. You can create Plans only within Products, and these Products are then published in a Catalog. A lifecycle manager can then control the availability and visibility of APIs and Plans through the API Manager. By using the API Manager, you can specify the Plans that an application developer is able to subscribe to through the Developer Portal. The application developer can only subscribe to one Plan from a specific Product. Multiple Plans within a single Product are useful in that they can fulfill similar purposes but with differing levels of performance[V5.0.8 or later] and cost. For example, you can have a Demo Plan, which makes a single API available[V5.0.8 or later]free of charge, and a Full Plan which makes several APIs available with a monthly subscription cost.

As well as controlling which APIs an application developer can use, different Plans can be used to implement different rate limits. A rate limit can be implemented as a default rate that is shared across an entire Plan, or can be set for specific operations of an API within that Plan, exempting them from the shared Plan rate limit. Different Plans can have differing rate limits, both between operations and for the overall limit. This is useful for providing differing levels of service to customers. For example, a Demo Plan might enforce a rate limit of ten calls per minute, while a Full Plan might permit up to 1000 calls per second.

DataPower Gateway only[V5.0.2 or later]In addition, you can apply burst limits to your Plans, to prevent usage spikes that might damage infrastructure. Multiple burst limits can be set per Plan, at second and minute time intervals. You can also set multiple rate limits per Plan and per operation, at second, minute, hour, day, and week time intervals.

  • Applying a rate limit at the Plan level creates a default rate limit that is shared across all the operations within the Plan. If you need to set specific rate limits for specific operations, you must set these within the operations themselves and these settings will override the setting at the Plan level.
  • [V5.0.3 or later]The test application that is used by the API Manager test tool is not subject to rate limits if you have enabled automatic subscriptions for the Catalog in which you are testing. For more information, see Working with Catalogs
IBM API Connect also supports the implementation of multiple versions of Products. You can choose version numbers and use them to aid the development of your Products and Plans.
Note: The version for a Product is distinct from the version of any APIs that are contained in the associated Plans. Plans cannot themselves have their own version, they use the version of their parent Product.