Join our beta: IAM for Developers

On April 11, 2024, my colleague Larry Jin announced Docusign IAM and teased the capabilities we’re delivering to our developer community. I’m very pleased to announce that we’ve reached an important milestone for Docusign IAM: open beta of our new developer capabilities. My name is Nikhil Patel, and I’m a Vice President of engineering responsible for creating the underlying platform that enables Docusign IAM to unleash the power of agreements, transforming your business process bottlenecks into a catalyst for growth, innovation, and efficiency.

This open beta milestone means that anyone can create a developer account (or use an existing account) to begin creating apps to extend and scale your agreement processes across our large customer base (approximately 1.5M!). We invite you to participate in our open beta to take part in this exciting new opportunity to solve the challenges of managing agreements end-to-end and extracting the data stored within them.

👀 A look behind the scenes

This beta program introduces you to creating extension apps and delivers an ecosystem of services that enable you to easily build, test, and deploy them to our App Center: a single place for all Docusign customers to view, download, and install the extension apps that you and other developers create. 

To date, Docusign only exposed our award-winning eSignature APIs to integrate digital signature workflows. However, our customers needed to access not just the signed documents, but also the content within them to power downstream business-critical applications and processes. Common scenarios included accessing signed documents and archiving them either locally or to another cloud storage platform, accessing data from third-party applications such as Salesforce, and using that data to fill the document fields or updating third-party applications with data from signed documents. For instance, imagine updating the contract values or customer contact information from the signed document back into the Salesforce account that tracks that contract.

Another set of key scenarios is to have information in an agreement verified before the agreement is digitally signed to avoid NIGO (Not in Good Order) types of errors that cost customers time and money.

To enable all these scenarios, we started by building these three extension types

  • File archive: Enables you to archive documents and files to a cloud storage platform. 
  • Data verification: Enables real-time verification based on type (bank account, address, phone number, etc.) from a trusted third-party provider.
  • Data IO: This extension type enables you to read and/or write data from third-party applications such as Salesforce, HubSpot, and Stripe.

How we got here

Traditionally, Docusign stored completed, signed documents as PDFs. While this secure signing experience is used by billions of signers worldwide, this resulted in the data being trapped in documents. In fact, research from Deloitte indicates that outdated agreement systems and processes will cost businesses nearly $2 trillion in global economic value each year. We learned from customers and partners that sometimes they created custom code to unlock the value trapped within their agreements.

For example, some customers and partners extracted value from fields trapped in PDF documents by including custom fields in envelopes, then listening for Connect events (our webhook product) when the document was signed, extracted data from those custom fields, then wrote the data back to the source system. With Docusign IAM, we’ve greatly simplified this entire process by providing extension type primitives that are strongly typed, so developers can focus on business processes and not workarounds.

To build the IAM platform, we worked closely with select Independent Software Vendor (ISV) partners during an Early Access Program (EAP) period, then expanded that during the closed beta period. Now we’re opening it up to all for this open beta period. To ensure the IAM platform and developer tools are successful, we listened to the valuable feedback from beta participants and iterated on our tools and technologies, and we will continue to do so.

Engineering challenges

Application extension building can be a daunting task, involving learning new programming languages, various frameworks and primitives; and can be resource intensive. Our goal was to give flexibility to developers to build useful applications that solve actual business problems while keeping the complexity to the bare minimum. We want to invite builders of all kinds to our platform and enable them to build applications as well, not just professional developers.

With this in mind, the engineering team kept the set of extension types limited to start, and made sure there is a good amount of developer tooling available. The concept of the Developer Console stems from this exact reasoning. The idea is that you define a simple manifest and test it out in the Developer Console; quick feedback then helps with reducing the burden on developers. I will cover more about the Developer Console next.

Building and publishing extension apps

As I mentioned before, extension apps enable you to unlock data trapped within your agreements. No matter what type of extension app you create, they all follow the same basic three-step process:

  1. Create the app

    Creating extension apps begins with the Developer Console, where you upload or create a manifest file containing the name of the extension app and other parameters, as shown in this video:

  2. Test the app

    Testing your app enables you to test connectivity and perform other basic functional tests, as well as testing your app inside Docusign. This video shows testing a basic extension app that uses the file archive extension type in the Developer Console and in a Docusign Maestro workflow:

  3. Publish the app

    To publish your app to the App Center, you first submit it for review by Docusign. After your extension app is approved, you can publish it to the App Center. This video shows how you to submit an extension app for review:

While these videos give you a brief overview of the development process, full documentation is available in the Extension apps section of the Developer Center.

What APIs are included in IAM for Developers?

IAM for Developers is a robust platform that enables developers to create solutions for their own company or for their customers. In this post, I focused mostly on extension apps and how to create them, but that’s not the only way to extend our IAM platform. For more than 20 years, developers have been integrating with our APIs, and we’re just getting started. The IAM for Developers platform exposes these two new APIs:

  • Web Forms API: Enjoy greater flexibility to manage forms using your own code including the creation and management of form instances with prefilled data. This API works with Docusign JS to enable the embedding of a web form instance in your web application. 
  • Maestro API: Enables you to create and manage branching end-to-end Maestro workflows that can extend beyond getting an agreement through eSignature. 

Start building and help us improve

First of all, we’d like to extend a huge thanks to our developer community for their unwavering support and valuable feedback over the years. Myself and my team have had the privilege to bring your ideas to life and we’re incredibly grateful for that. We would not be here without you and we welcome your continued feedback. 

Speaking of feedback, we now have a brand new community space curated for you, supported by us. If you have not already, feel free to join our Developer Community for helpful tips, support, feedback, and special invites to upcoming events to connect with fellow developers and our teams! As you engage more within our community, you can earn badges and some fun swag. We hope to see you there.

So, why wait? Start building and test out our IAM for Developers offerings!

What’s next on the roadmap?

We’re committed to being forthcoming and transparent about what we’re building for you and will be sharing a more detailed roadmap in the coming months. Here are some things we’re working on that you’ll be interested in:

  • Developer Console Enhancements: We are continuously improving developer productivity with new features such as a dashboard for app performance monitoring, support for publishing extension apps privately within your organization, and more enhancements.
  • Navigator API: Enables developers to leverage the power of AI to centrally store, manage, and analyze your agreements and data within them. We’ll make this API available in a future beta program.
  • MyMaestro sample app: Sample apps showcase various use cases for our APIs. The MyMaestro sample app is under development and will showcase how to use our Maestro API endpoints.
  • Reference implementations: Bootstrap extension app development with a collection of GitHub code, written in Node.js. We’ll have one project for each of the three extension types I discussed earlier (file archive, data verification, and data IO).
  • Reference implementation videos: We’ll show you how to use the reference implementations with short videos on each extension type.

Look for future announcements about these roadmap items in the Docusign Developers blog and in our Developer Community.

Additional resources

Nikhil Patel
Nikhil Patel
Vice President of Engineering