API Perspectives

I enjoy a privileged perspective of the world of APIs. It has been one that I have carefully crafted over a decade in the space. I experience and engage with a lot of perspectives, and I am always fascinated by how many perspectives there are in the API space, but also how many people occupy a single perspective and cannot see or empathize with those who enjoy other perspectives, or like me, multiple perspectives in any given moment. As I am doing other writing for work I wanted to take a moment and explore what the possible perspectives are that I regularly see in my API conversation, providing the baseline for the perspective I use in my storytelling, but also to help me in the moment while I am having conversations.

  • API Producers - The version of the world that people who are producing APIs see, based upon what they want to achieve by doing APIs.
  • Single API - A perspective that Is closest to the ground floor, thinking in terms of the resources and capabilities available in single API.
  • Many APIs - Expanding and being responsible for many APIs, understanding what it takes to consistently operate and deliver many APIs.
  • Type of API - Focused on a single type of API like REST, GraphQL, Event-Driven, and other patterns that are useful and possibly trendy.
  • API Consumer - The view of the human being who is consuming an API and actually trying to put it to work as part of their business.
  • API Producer / Consumer - How someone sees the world when they live simultaneously as both a producer and consumer of APIs.
  • API Lifecycle - Looking at things from across the entire lifecycle, or from a specific stop along the API lifecycle, looking across all APIs.
  • API Governance - Having a desire to govern API Operations, defining the guidelines, rules, and other constraints and enablement for APIs.
  • API Roles - The technical writers, developer relations, QA, security, and business wtokehdolers involved in producing and consuming APIs.
  • Business Leadership - How the C-suite view APIs in their operations and the industries they are looking to operate in and compete globally.
  • PI Vendor - Looking at things from the perspective of the company who is selling you API services and tooling for use across the lifecycle.
  • API Analyst - Understanding what analysts and pundits see or don’t see, and how they view the API realities and fantasies that exist.
  • Government Regulator - The government regulators who are increasingly seeing APIs as an important tools in their compliance toolbox.
  • Government Policy Maker - The average politician who is being thrust into crafting policies that influence or wield how APIs are used.
  • Industry Trade Organization - The perspective of industry trade organizations who are interested in maintaining relevance in industry.
  • Industry Aggregators - The aggregators within any business sector who is interested in aggregating data and maintaining relevance.
  • Standards Body - Understanding how the Internet and other standards bodies see APIs and the producers and consumers using them.

These are just a few of the perspectives I see from recent API conversation I have with Postman customers, Breaking Changes interviews, and the myriad of other conversations I find myself in when playing that game of API Chat Roulette I play in my Google Calendar each week. Originally I was going at this purely from the roles I see expanding along the API lifecycle, but honestly that was too narrow, and I wanted to understand the other swirling currents that are both inside and outside of the enterprise. I am sure I am missing a lot of perspectives here, but this gives me a baseline to ground this line of thinking, and is something I can add to over time.

I am endlessly fascinated in hearing the stories of the API space from across these perspectives. I am also endlessly challenged by crafting stories that speak across this spectrum. Reaching and influencing across this spectrum takes a lot of work. There are many, many opinions and so much dogma baked into these vantage points, and some will never see and get the macro perspective, while others will never see and get the micro perspective. You see a lot of this playing out in conversations like the GraphQL vs. REST debate, where the GraphQL community likes to make claims of it being the end all solution for APIs, without much awareness of the many types of APIs that exist. Also with security, who wants to just protect APIs and keep the landscape risk free, without understanding the rest of the API ifecycle. I am not saying these perspective are right or wrong, I am just saying that we need to consider the spectrum of perspectives that exist, and increasingly have conversations that are multi-perspective if we are going to move things forward at scale.