API Craft Detroit: Day Two

Feelin' the time running out


  1. Morning over Detroit as we rolled out of our hotels and started gathering for another day of API discussions... after an encore of that chicken and waffles breakfast we had on Day One (conference organizers, take note - nobody doesn't like chicken and waffles). 
  2. So what's a self-designed conference without a little self-reflection and modification? Most of us at this conference are practicing Agilistas so naturally we started the day with some retrospective and adjustment, adding sessions or removing them based on all the thoughts rolling around in our heads from Day One. It's an interesting concept and, while the process was new to most of us, it was amazing how quickly we grasped it. It seemed like a very 'human' way to run a gathering of any type - more companies should follow this format for offsites or all-hands meetings, IMO.
  3. You could tell that we were feeling the time running out though because Day Two saw us making use of far more locations around the facility than Day One did - we had sessions in the hallway, on the rooftop, in the couch areas, in the conference rooms...
  4. From describing APIs to versioning APIs, it seemed like the first sessions of Day Two started off with more granular conversations about everyday problems we all grapple with. You would think that many of these issues would have been sorted out over the decades we've been building and using APIs but it's clear that the changes in the API landscape - public APIs, third-party APIs - have thrown much of what we know out the window. But let's face it - humans love to rethink and start over. We do it all the time... and the API crowd is no different.
  5. And we didn't even shut up during the lunch break:
  6. The brilliance of keeping the group small and letting it create its own conference really shone through on Day Two. We knew each other now - we threw away all the marketing veneer people usually carry around at conferences and got to know each other as practitioners and strategists. From versioning and docs in the morning, caching and prototyping at lunch to mobile APIs and batch operations in the afternoon, there seemed to be a fervor to tap into the collective gray matter of the API brainiacs while we had the opportunity.
  7. And things didn't get simpler as the day wore on - what seemed like a simple discussion about business models turned into a thorny debate about which comes first - business model or API? (yes, @njyx, you were there in spirit)
  8. For me, it seemed that some themes emerged and wove themselves around many of the talks, whether we were talking about low-level design issues or high-level business problems.

    - You have to know and understand your stakeholders and consumers, just as you would with any other piece of software you - build
    - APIs are just a means to an end - they enable business, not the other way around
    - We're in the early phases of the API industry but the tide is turning and we have some serious issues to iron out (security, patents, tooling)
    - You have to consume your APIs yourself so you can be part of making them better

  9. The good news is that we had a great representation of the industry at this conference, from Netflix to LLBean, Marriott to Blue Cross, Verizon to LinkedIn... and while we were there as individuals representing ourselves, not company reps, we still have the ability to steer this industry through those companies.