REST API Notes for 2017/01/17

In Northern Virginia, we've started that weird part of the year where winter and spring begin their tug of war. That usually means gray, overcast days that occasionally belch out a traffic-crippling blizzard. Thankfully, there's plenty of great reading to be done inside.


As the practice of web API development continues to mature, the material being shared on line demonstrates increasing levels of nuance. Making the decision between services and libraries can be challenging. But Jessica Kerr has a straightforward, yet detailed, piece on the tradeoffs in dependency management. Specifically, she contrasts the two approaches across visibility, deployment, versioning, backwards compatibility, and isolation.


But APIs aren't just an architectural consideration. Last year Mark Boyd published a fantastic article on turning APIs into products. It continues to be an area of concern; while bright and capable developers may be able to speak to the architectural benefits of their API, the product thinking is often forgotten (or worse, slapped on after the fact [cough ESPN cough).

What does approaching an API with a product mindset mean? In addition to having use cases and a product roadmap, it also means being able to have a product specification. This can trip up digital product managers who are now charged with an API product; they no longer have a set of wireframes or UI to refer to. API description specifications, like the OpenAPI spec, RAML, or API Blueprint, can help. But I appreciated Matt Bernier's thorough walkthrough on how he uses a prototype as an API Product Specification.


Finally, international man-of-mystery, Mehdi Madjaoui, had a major announcement last week. When he's not globe-trotting while putting on latest API Days conference, Mehdi is publishing white papers on pressing API topics. The latest is The State of API Documentation. The 48 page PDF (email registration required) has interviews with Romain Huet (Stripe), Arnaud Lauret (API Handyman), Chris Messina (formerly of Uber), among others.


At my day job, I'm excited to announce a handful of new additions to our API team. While while those will be happening shortly, there are still a handful of openings left. If you have a passion for API design and an ambition for enterprise-wide impact, I'd be interested in talking with you.

Also, I need to freshen up the site. If you know of an upcoming event that should be listed, I'd love to hear about that too.

Till then,
Matthew (@libel_vox)

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