API Report: Inside Electronic Signatures

Adam DuVander, July 20th, 2011

For at least thirty years, people have talked about the “paperless office.” With cloud-based services, it may finally be possible. Yet, for many organizations, a major hang-up is contracts, which require ink signatures. In our first public API report, sponsored by DocuSign, we looked at electronic signature platforms. Specifically, we examined the features and developer friendliness of e-signature APIs, which allow non-ink signatures to be automated and integrated into business processes. Without a doubt, e-signatures are a growing field, as evidenced by the recent acquisition of EchoSign by Adobe.


Free Download: Inside Electronic Signature APIs report (2 MB, PDF)

For this report, we used publicly available information. In other words, we used the same information that would be available to any developer looking to integrate with e-signature APIs. We found three different approaches to features and developer programs. EchoSign and RightSignature focus on automation of your own e-signature processes. DocuSign is aimed at system integrators, creating solutions for other businesses. AssureSign has a business development approach, with details of its program available only to select partners, so most of the report focuses on the other three APIs.

The E-Signature APIs

DocuSign Enterprise
DocuSign API uses SOAP protocol and formats its responses as XML. More at our DocuSign API profile.
EchoSign
EchoSign API uses SOAP protocol and formats its responses as XML. More at our EchoSign API profile.
RightSignature
RightSignature API uses REST protocol and formats its responses as XML or JSON. More at our RightSignature API profile.


Developer Programs: The “Three Cs”

This report also introduces the first version of our internal developer program criteria for developer friendliness. We looked at the clarity, cost and community aspects of all three e-signature providers. Does the documentation help developers know what to do? Is the price, if any, available and obvious? Are there tools to help the developer access support from the community and the provider?

We look forward to your feedback on this first public API report. How could you use e-signature APIs in your organization? And what do you look for in any developer program?

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17 Responses to “API Report: Inside Electronic Signatures”

July 20th, 2011
at 1:26 pm
Comment by: Bob

Was this blog post written by DocuSign too? Does ProgrammableWeb have any independent thoughts of their own or is it strictly pay-for-placement?

July 20th, 2011
at 2:05 pm
Comment by: Mike

Good report. Looking forward to more side by side comparisons in other areas as well.

July 20th, 2011
at 2:28 pm
Comment by: Adam DuVander

Bob — All content was researched and written by ProgrammableWeb’s editorial team. I understand your skepticism. If you read the report, I hope you’ll agree that our independent thought is expressed through our analysis.

July 20th, 2011
at 3:18 pm
Comment by: John

hahahaha

I wonder how much docusign paid for this article.

July 20th, 2011
at 3:26 pm
Comment by: John

Wow….and I only had read the blog post…the PDF is worse!

This is the most inaccurate, tainted piece of garbage. Any credibility for programmableweb is lost for me.

I’m laughing even harder since I see a big “DocuSign” logo in the “Featured APIs” section right below. Classic.

July 20th, 2011
at 9:48 pm
Comment by: Alex

@John – what did you find as inaccurate? Just curious because it sounds like you passionately dislike this. There must be a reason.

July 21st, 2011
at 5:52 am
Comment by: Tom

Presents the first detailed look at what makes up the different ESign providers systems in a very intetesting way. Depending on what area of electronic signature management you are looking for, you can see the different ways it can be accomplished via the API. This should be very useful for those seeking clarification before developing.

July 21st, 2011
at 9:55 am
Comment by: Greg Hansen

Having looked into all 3 API’s for my business, I have to say they are all very similar as far as features. We needed to embed document signatures in our saas app, and Rightsignature’s API was by far the easiest to work with for that process. We have been using the Rightsignature API since February and dont have any complaints

July 21st, 2011
at 10:05 am
Comment by: Jalen

@ Adam DuVander- For the record, it is usually hard to convince people of your “independent thought” when the third sentence in the opening paragraph mentions that the entire comparison is sponsored by Docusign. I appreciate your honesty, but please don’t try to convince me that your team put in an unbiased opinion. Right off the bat the article screams pay-for-placement, and having actually read the piece, it is blatantly obvious.

July 21st, 2011
at 2:24 pm
Comment by: Mike B.

@Jalen I also give PW props for being transparent. I guess as an engineer what I really care about is – are there some factual inconsistencies? The report seems pretty in depth. Did you find some inaccuracies or are you just against reports being sponsored by anyone?

July 22nd, 2011
at 8:25 am
Comment by: Bob

@Adam DuVander – “all content was researched and written by ProgrammableWeb’s editorial team” … did any of those team members log into the product via free developer accounts or trials? Fundamental to me if you are to do a comparative analysis – or were you just going of statements made on websites? As an EchoSign USER (not website reader), I can tell you this report isn’t accurate. Bottom line, it’s a joke that this is sponsored by DocuSign – how could P. Web possibly provide an unbiased report? Why don’t you disclose for us how much DocuSign paid for this, or paid for the rest of the adverting on your site?

July 24th, 2011
at 8:23 am
Comment by: Efrat

It is clearly written in its first pages that the report was sponsored by DocuSign, what else someone needs to realize the objectiveness of this research?

July 25th, 2011
at 10:28 am
Comment by: Jalen

@Mike B. I am only against sponsored reports when they falsely claim to be unbiased. And yes, having tried all three online trials the report also contains factual inaccuracies. Many of the features that RightSignature and Echosign actually do have, such as multiple methods to sign, are not included in the report. The entire report purposefully compares the services on criteria that will paint a pretty picture of Docusign, and even then it omits existing features related to the other 2 services.

August 8th, 2011
at 5:26 am
Comment by: Michael Odenwald

Anyone with a long-term view of the market should applaud this work. With as much opportunity as we have ahead, I applaud any and all of the vendors for invest g in material that brings out the trials and tribulations of integrating with an esign platform. If DocuSign can afford the first one, perhaps Adobe will be next. We need a healthy balance of options in this huge market. No company, not even Adobe can support a Salesforce or support operation to singlehandedly lead the market based on the revenue streams today. Waynto go to DocuSign for continung to fuel the education process to the benefit of all eSign Services companies.

August 8th, 2011
at 6:57 pm
Comment by: Nick

Programmableweb left our a major provider API providers (even listed in its directory). Sertifi E-Sign http://www.sertifi.com provides one of the leading e-Signature API’s used and trusted by Fortune 500 companies such as Pitney Bowes and Microsoft. Its developers center and API’s are publicly available from its website. Sertifi has 1000’s of API implementations across a variety of markets.

August 9th, 2011
at 7:31 pm
Comment by: Mike

does your docusign sponsored report have any analysis on their 3 CEO changes in 20 months? .. sure their API might be decent, but no way is this company in good shape.

September 16th, 2011
at 8:52 am
Comment by: Tonmoy

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John Musser
Founder, ProgrammableWeb

Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.