REST API Notes for 2017/11/28

I hope those of you that were in the US had a RESTful (and relaxing) Thanksgiving holiday. We are rapidly entering one of my favorite seasons: when things slow down and I step back to review the patterns of the previous year. Before I get there, though, there's still a few timely notes to share.


Just building an API that is publically accessible isn't enough. If in a competitive marketplace with alternatives, people will choose the APIs with great Developer Experience (DX). But what does that look and feel like? For examples, Kostas Livieratos profiles several in his piece, "3 Developer-Friendly APIs with Great DX".


When companies release a publicly available API, there usually is a clear line between that work and a business outcome: a beneficial partnership, revenue generation, etc. In his article, "Developing a Talent Pool Within Your API Community", Kin Lane illuminates some of the not-so-obvious benefits of a public API. As he notes, it isn't enough to just put an API out there. Like a garden, it needs to be tended before the bountiful harvest can be reaped.


Microservices remains a popular topic on the conference circuit. I believe this is because the seemingly simple task of decomposing services actually encompasses numerous factors, many of which probably weren't being correctly addressed within companies to begin with. These factors include bounded context definition, writing to interface contracts, deployment automation, and cultural attitude changes around ownership, continuous integration, and software architecture.

To help, here's a rapid-fire list of some great resources I've come across in the past month. The first is a presentation on microservice best practices from the "Independent Systems Architecture" website. It is put out by the folks at InnoQ, which I've found to be a reliable source for this kind of thought leadership. While it might be more prescriptive than some may like, it is a great place to get started.

Speaking of InnoQ, CEO and principal Consultant, Stefan Tilkov, has a deck available called "Microservices: Patterns & Antipatterns". The anti-patterns, in particular, help illustrate where people get into trouble when they jump into a microservice effort without fully understanding what they're getting into.

Another presentation worth mentioning is Daniel Bryant's 2017 GOTO Conference talk, "Microservices: The Organisational & People Impact". I might have mentioned this talk before; he's given it in a number of places this year, including microXchange 2017. But it remains no less relevant. A version of the deck is available online.

I'll end this brief section with Mike Amundsen, who lists "Twelve Patterns for Evolvable APIs". In this talk, Mike combines microservices with hypermedia to create a compelling vision for service design.



SendGrid, the email mailing company widely lauded for its API integrations, started public trading this month on the New York Stock Exchange. The public offering follows Twilio's 2016 share launch. This is notable as SendGrid's primary product is not an app, or a website, but an API for email management. Most non-technical investors probably use language like "B2B services provider" when assessing risk and growth opportunities. It is, nevertheless, a further normalization of an API product as a viable and scalable business model.


This has been a big year for API company acquisitions. Whether Runscope being bought by CA or Hitch joining New Relic there has been a fair amount of consolodation in the space. To that add news that Talend has acquired Restlet. For the purposes of disclosure, Restlet powers


A number of developers, myself included, were surprised to see that Twitter was launching "premium APIs". Funny video aside, I had a "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" moment. Twitter has shut off access before in an attempt to monetize its data, leaving those reliant on access to sit on their thumbs. It is not unlike Google shutting down access to its QPX Express API, a service that was essential to a number of travel sites for airfare data.

I feel like Mulder, from X-files: I want to believe that Twitter is serious about supporting a rich, diverse, and possibly even bawdy developer ecosystem for the sake of innovating the platform. But recent history has me skeptical of building anything other than toys on the back of these new APIs. I need to see proof otherwise.


Airbnb has launched a non-partner API (kinda). There was an API before, but it had only been for official integration partners. Airbnb has announced availability outside of those partners, but that API still isn't public. There's no published docs, and no immediate access. It is only after an individual's application is approved that they will receive docs and be able to begin testing against a sandbox environment. It's a strange "not-partner-but-still-gated" step that feels a bit like Airbnb wants to maintain controlled access and significantly scale their integrations; a 'have their cake and eat it too' situation.


I'll end on a positive note. Stripe has published an OpenAPI description of their API. Romain Huet, writing on Twitter, mentions how having a standardized format allows for easy integrations with tools. Some, burned by bloated, ugly WSDL enterprise software in the past questioned if there was OpenAPI value outside of "documentation". I've vigorously pushed back against that narrow thinking. Admittedly, it is a chicken and egg thing; toolmakers won't invest the time and energy in building features if there are few OpenAPI descriptions floating around, and people won't write the descriptions if there aren't tools that subsequently solve interesting problems with those descriptions. The more API descriptions like this and the recently released Slack description I previously mentioned, the more that flywheel gets turning.


While the meetups have slowed to a trickle given the upcoming holiday season, I did add a handful of items to Check out that site for conferences, meetups, and/or hackathons happening near you. If you don't see an event that should be there let me know; either respond to this directly or send me an email at ''.

Til next time,


@libel_vox and

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