APIDays Berlin & APIStrat Europe

I only attend conferences for swag.

Swag.

Last week I attended the annual API Strategy and Practice Conference in Berlin. This year the organisers of the APIStrat joined forces with API Days Berlin to deliver this event.

I first attended this conference last year in Amsterdam when we were still learning about writing APIs. It was such an eye opener. I came back with a laundry list of tasks we should start doing, stop doing or continue doing. I loved the inclusivity of the entire event. I know this is something that Kin Lane – The API Evangelist and the other organisers 3Scale are really passionate about. You can read about it here in their published Code of Conduct.

This year saw more than 450 people descend into Berlin. The conference brings together the technical and business sides of the API industry. These conferences typically start off with some keynotes and then have several tracks throughout the day such as API design and best practices, API architecture, lessons from the trenches and this year we had lots of talk about microservices.

My highlights from the two days:

  • Sébastien Cevey gave a very insightful keynote about how the Guardian has started to use hypermedia for its media content delivery. Hypermedia APIs are all about having a discoverable API. You can start at the root such as /api-root and then through a series of links you can discover what actions you can perform on an API resource. Hypermedia brings a lot of advantages such as being able to evolve an API however here in Mendeley we always felt the tooling was a little weak and feel it’s a good aspiration but the jury is still out for us. Read more about Sébastien’s talk here.
  • Brendan McAdams gave an excellent talk about Building Beautiful APIs & Microservices. While it was an entertaining talk with some very funny slides it drove home some valuable points:
    • documentation is non negotiable — “An API that isn’t documented is no API at all”. Nobody likes doing it but it really is the making of an API.
    • the importance of graceful degradation in a microservices environment.
    • not providing clear error messages to your clients really is a sign that you don’t care enough.
  • My own talk that I gave in the “Lessons from the Trenches” track. The building of the Mendeley API has been the key to us being able to carve out a monolith and begin to get into a better place. This seemed to resonate with folks in the room and seems to be a common problem for developer teams. I was delighted to be able to share some of the realities of API development.

I want to draw special attention to the Gender Gap Grader. Unfortunately I missed this talk but I got to chat with the presenters Elena Rossini and Elian Carsenat afterwards. It uses NamSor’s name recognition software to identify the gender of a name in large datasets. What really surprised me is that Elena Rossini is actually a filmmaker, photographer and multimedia producer. She is doing this in her spare time. As a woman in IT then I’m very much aware of the gender gaps. There are simply not enough women in IT. Check out my thoughts on it in my Women in STEM video.

I could go through each and every one of the talks here but the organisers are in the process of getting footage up on the APIStrat YouTube channel so check it out. They should be there shortly. Also, check out the ProgrammableWeb’s write up on the first day.

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About Joyce-Stack - Developer Outreach

Joyce Stack completed a BSc. (Hons) Computer Science from The Open University while working in a startup in Co. Cork, Ireland. She moved to London in 2005 to join one of the City’s leading exponents of agile techniques at that time to work as a Java Developer. She is now working in the Developer Outreach role in Mendeley where her responsibilities are to meet and educate developers about the Mendeley API, attend conferences, meetups and hackathons and basically be the face of the API. She is passionate about providing an excellent developer experience and APIs. She likes biking, swimming and yoga but she hates potatoes despite being Irish.