Working to Visualize the API Lifecycle

It is hard to have a discussion about things we can’t see. Some of us excel at dealing in the abstract, but most people prefer discussion involving more visual and tangible things. One of the critical aspects of the world of APIs I am hell bent on trying to visualize lately is the API lifecycle. This is one of this ubiquitous phrases you hear perpetually in the space (me included), but is something that means something different depending on who you talk to, and there just aren’t many very meaningful or quality visual representations of what the API lifecycle is. As I gather up examples of how different API service and tooling providers work to visualize the API lifecycle I am going to share then here on the blog, with this one from digitalml being pretty interesting.

There are several things I really like about digitalml’s approach to visualizing the API lifecycle. First it is people centered! Next I really like the pulley system showing the conplexity and multiple flows of the API lifecycle–I am always frustrated when the API lifecycle is a single linear direction. There are some things I don’t like, mainly that it misses much of the sustainment portion of this conversation, and is just one slice of the API lifecycle from a single vendors view. But this is the game right? I can’t fault them for sharing their slice of the pie–I do it all the time. Overall, it is a pretty slick looking visualization of the lifecycle that I think with some refinements could provide a pretty meaningful way to help paint a dynamic picture of what the API lifecycle actually is and does.

I am working really hard to lock down a single vocabulary for describing the API lifecycle. I am also very, very, very interested in coming up with a set of visual representations to go along with this vocabulary. I feel like the API lifecycle should be dynamic in nature to meet the different needs of different types of API Operations, but I can’t get past thinking that we are collectively missing out on significant forward motion by not coming to an agreement on what the hell we mean when we talk about the API lifecycle. As I keep noodling and researching on the topic I’ll publish any more thoughts or healthy examples here on the blog. If you have any examples or ideas feel free to tweet or email at me to let me know how you see things.