Everything As A Service: Applying APIs to Your Internal Systems

Posted my latest entry to the API Strategy blog last week, in which I advocate approaching your internal architecture as a series of APIs rather than a monolithic system.

I’m certainly not the first to propose or recommend this idea. It has, in fact, been around for a while under the label “Service Oriented Architecture” or SOA. But SOA has traditionally relied on complicated protocols like SOAP or CORBA or technologies that lock you in to a given platform like COM or JMS. RESTful APIs are becoming the best solution for modularized systems, even within the same data center, as they allow for maximum flexibility with no vendor lock in. It does require additional work in the initial stages to get it running correctly, but tools like Apigility (for PHP) and restify (for node.js) allow you apply a RESTful facade in front of legacy systems until they can be rearchitected to serve a RESTful interface natively or replaced entirely.

Since REST is a completely open standard (though I use the term “standard” loosely here), you can rapidly onboard new developers and integrate with the latest and greatest technologies with ease. You can also more easily expose select parts of your infrastructure to partners and third party developers with very little additional work.

Precious few internal systems are built like this, and too many systems architects dismiss the idea of an API driven architecture out of hand without  considering the benefits. Forward-thinking architects immediately see the benefits of combining highly modularized systems with RESTful API interfaces to deliver tremendous flexibility, systems reusability, increased rates of innovation and reduced onboarding time for new developers.

Two-Sentence Romantic Horror

Inspired by this old Reddit thread, I wrote this last night on the plane to Denver:

Before each business flight, he would comfort her by whispering in her ear, “I’ll always come home.” So it came as no surprise when, after the crash, after the news crews left her lawn, after she finally had a moment to lie down in her bed to try and sleep, she felt the disembodied chill embrace her and whisper in her ear, “I’m home.”

Developer Experience Matters

In my latest post on the Mashery API Strategy blog, I explain why developer experience matters and why you should spend as much time, money and effort ensuring you have great API design and documentation as you do on your web site’s UI and UX design. I also make the somewhat controversial claim that, just because you built your application in an MVC framework like Ruby on Rails or Cake PHP, you don’t really have a good API. No matter what the designers of those frameworks say, you can not get a good API for free.

I welcome your shocked and awed reactions.

My First Mention in TechCrunch and My Nose Was All Snotty

This happened a few weeks back, but I’ve been remiss to mention it here. After more than 20 years in the industry, I finally got a mention in TechCrunch. Sadly, it was for having a ginormous booger in my nose.

In truth, it was because of a cool app Neil Mansilla and I developed during the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon this year. Though we didn’t win, our idea and pitch for Hot Mess stood out enough from the crowd of about 270 other pitches to be worthy of writeup in TechCrunch. Frankly, that’s a win in my book.

You can see the video we produced for our pitch below.

So You Think You Can Dance

Dustin will be in his first talent show today (preschool – seriously). Last night, he informed Danielle and I that he was nervous and didn’t want to go to school because he has no talents.

This is patently false. The boy has several talents, chief among them the odd ability to dance. Odd because his mother and I are completely devoid of any sense of rhythm. Put on a house beat and Danielle and I will just sway awkwardly. The boy, on the other hand, gets into this crazy pop and lock groove that is mysteriously in time with the music. I’m not sure where he picked it up – he sure as hell didn’t learn it at home – but I am impressed, even beyond the normal “proud father” level.

So we encouraged him to dance for his talent. He sort of resignedly agreed and the conversation ended. This morning, he told me he’s still nervous. We had a small bonding moment over it. I told him that every time I get in front of a crowd, no matter what size, I always get nervous, but I ride that nervous energy to make my performance the best I possibly can. He seemed to understand.

Nothing profound here today, just marking the boy’s first time entertaining a crowd. No matter how it turns out, I’m certain it will be awesome.