Net API Notes for 2020/01/02 - Issue 117

Looking back, 2019 was notable for several reasons:

In 2019, I also ran two 5ks. My times won't dazzle anyone, but after tearing a knee ligament and enduring a 9-month recovery in the not so distant past, I'll take it.


Prediction is a game of numbers: throw out enough of 'em, and eventually statistics say you'll be right on something. While I fully expect to be surprised throughout 2020, here is some of the things I expect to write about in the coming year:

  • Service Meshes - The service mesh hype has cooled as people move into implementation. The "lessons-learned" case studies are emerging, and the challenge of debugging this-much-distributed anything ain't pretty. Still, for companies that are embracing the cloud at scale, the complexity will require further discussion.
  • Event-driven Microservices - The area including webhook apis and asyncapi will continue to grow. While this approach doesn't enjoy the stratospheric trajectory that service meshes did, it also won't have the crater of disillusionment, either. The demand for real-time experiences continues, and so will architectures to meet it.
  • AI via API - I have a low tolerance for vendor BS, and much of what is touted as AI stinks of it. However, for specific applications, machine learning will be significant. Creating models for things like image recognition and language processing are bespoke, expensive affairs. Because of this, the future of AI will be delivered through APIs. I feel this so much so that I'm presenting on this topic at the January 7th DC Web API meetup group.


Also looking ahead are Zdenek Nemec and Mike Amundsen. At last December's Paris API Days conference, they jointly announced "Superface" is a portmanteau of "super" and "interface". A superface, as the newly launched website describes, is a combination of:

  • Autonomous APIs
  • Decoupled Components
  • Self-Driving Clients

You can review the slides and prepared remarks in the deck "The Mother of All APIs".

"Wait," I can imagine you say, "isn't that just hypermedia?"

In part, yes. Providing meaningful affordances, in the form of hypermedia links, remains an underutilized aspect of many API designs. The perceived utility of links, however, was never the hangup to adoption. The crux is being able to meet developers where they are.

The business reality in my inbox - be it regulatory accountability, security efficacy, or privacy enforcement - is predicated on knowing who the person is, what information they have access to, and when they accessed it. Humans remain in the loop for making the call on those decisions, and will mostly likely remain so for liability reasons. A free-for-all, autonomous, discovery and consumption story is not where business is at.

Further, there's friction between delivery incentives (produce an outcome ASAP) verses idealized, architectural ones. While long-term business outcomes should be aligned with architectural investment, this is a very hard thing do, much less maintain.

I'd like to be wrong on this and see flourish. The year ahead will be telling.



Interested in meeting with other like-minded API practitioners? Make a New Year's resolution to meet with folks and check out for the latest happenings in your area. If you know of a meetup, hackathon, or conference that isn't there but should be, respond to this message and let me know.

I'll end by saying thank you to the generous Patreons who have continued to support this newsletter in small but meaningful ways.

Till next time,

Matthew @libel_vox and

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