Albert Putnam(@AlbertPutnam) tuned me into the fact that ProgrammableWeb is shutting down this month, after seventeen years of operation. I have mixed feelings about this, in that I don’t tune into the site much anymore because it is a static API directory and a pay for play blog, lacking the original heart and soul the blog had back in the day. However, I also have deep emotions about this blog being the launch pad for my career as the API Evangelist and Chief Evangelist at Postman. Reading the blog posts by John Musser and Adam DuVander is what got me thinking deeply about APIs, and nudges from these amazing individuals prompted me to keep writing on API Evangelist, and even write a handful of posts on ProgrammableWeb as I was getting started. ProgrammableWeb is one of the iconic cornerstone in my history of APIs narrative, and has played a significant role in the API world we all take for granted now.
ProgrammableWeb was started by John Musser in 2015, but then was purchased by Alcatel Lucent in 2010, with Mulesoft purchasing the site in 2013, to now be shuttered by Salesforce follwoing their acquisition of Mulesoft less than just ten years later. I am sad. But I have grown very accustom to the ups and downs, births, acquisitions, and deprecations that occurs across the API space. I don’t get that sad about much anymore. Nothing in the world of technology lasts forever, and APIs, the code, information, and hopes and aspirations around them eventually come to where it doesn’t matter anymore. This is life. No, this is grinding gears of the venture fueled digital landscape we find ourselves living and sometimes drowning in, perpetually chewed up by the digital gears of the machine as we all allow our lives to be reduced into digital transactions. I mourn ProgrammableWeb for the early passion it sparked in me and the friends it made me over the years, but not much more. ProgrammableWeb as a storytelling vehicle made me happy. ProgrammableWeb as an SEO machine did not.
Albert asked me what my thoughts and response was. Coincidently, I had started overhauling API Evangelist a couple of weeks ago. My friend and team member Pascal Heus started writing here, and it sparked something deep down in me that I couldn’t shake. For the first time in years I began looking for a new theme, and got to work overhauling, and then optimizing the content I have published here. I don’t really have a plan, but I have a flurry of visions in my head about what I’d like to see. I’d like to keep writing on a daily basis. I miss those days. I miss the healing properties of organizing your thoughts into posts each day, and then publishing for everyone to see, but also for me to search and use as time keeps marching on. I really want to keep extracting the amazing stories that are coming out of conversation on my Breaking Changes podcast. I also want to take full advantage of the collaborative energy that is occurring across my team at Postman, and if any of them want to carve out their portion of this site—-I welcome it! I have no grand SEO visions. I have no revenue targets or page views goals I will need to reach. I just want to do what I have been doing since 2010. I just want to make sense of the world of API, organize my thoughts so I can speak coherently to all of this insanity, while also sharing and hopefully contributing to others awareness.
As I overhauled API Evangelist with this new template (which I love), I feel like I am taking an old pair of sweat pants and hoodie and refurbishing them to be brand new again, but still retaining the comfort and old stains. API Evangelist is so familiar to me. It is a headspace I can slip into easily and the words just flow. Granted, they might not always be coherent words, or grammatically perfect, but they are flowing. That is what matters the most. I don’t know what this site will transform into this round. I just know I like having my archive of stories and a place to publish all of my ideas and stories I hear each day. I am beyond stoked that Pascal likes posting here. I’ve only had a handful of guest posts on here over the years, despite it always running on Github and anyone can post. I have gotten a small army of copy editors over the years to submit pull requests to correct my shit, but for the most part it has just been my rants, soap boxing, and storytelling here at API Evangelist. I’d like to see API Evangelist be more than just me, but I don’t want it to lose its soul, either at my hand, or by that of others, so it will always reman somewhat of an editorial dictatorship—it is my baby. Trust me, along the way I’ve almost pushed the site to lose its soul, and entertained taking sums of cash for it at various points in time. Which means it would have ended up like ProgrammableWeb, and on its way to that warehouse where they put all of the stuff Indiana Jones steals from people.
Back to ProgrammalbeWeb. I feel like a good old friend of mine just passed. You know, the one I hadn’t talked to in many years because of that stupid shit they pulled at the BBQ when we were both too drunk. I really didn’t miss them while they were alive, but now that they are gone I am shedding a tear and feeling like I should crack open a shitty beer and toast them one last time, even if I don’t drink anymore. ProgrammableWeb mattered. It set in motion the API economy that we are all neck deep in right now. John and Adam set in motion the soul of the API space that I built API Evangelist on, Steve Willmott and I build API Strategy & Practice on, Mehdi Medjoui delivered API World on, and Abhinav, Ankit, and Abhijit have built Postman on. It saddens me that Salesforce and Mulesoft do not see the value of it, and possessing a bigger imagination regarding what it can be. Give it to me and I’ll show you! The SEOification of ProgrammableWeb is a tangible representation of what I mean when I say “Reduce Everything to a Transaction”. When you hear me say this about APIs, it isn’t because APIs do this. We do it to ourselves by accepting the mediocre, boring, soul-sucking, and exploitative business practices that leave us with very few meaningful platforms and tools to work with. Its alright. I don’t get sad about this stuff to much anymore. But I still get all old man ranty—-that is how I know I am still alive.
Alright, that is all I have on this one. Here is a toast to you ProgrammableWeb. John. Adam. <3 <3 David. <3 Wendell. Kevin. Janet. I see you. Thank y’all. That was fun. There will always be a little ProgrammableWeb in the writing here on API Evangelist. Thanks for being a worthy companion and sometimes adversary over the years. Thanks for providing a back drop to the early days of the API universe. Thanks for getting us started. The possibilities, opportunities, chaos, and complexities are endless. Let’s keep building the sprawl. Let’s keep inadequately investing in API discovery at a community level, until we build a massive web of digital API infrastructure that consumes us. Or maybe, just maybe, someone is working hard on finding a solution, and will provide a platform that will keep helping us make sense of all of this at scale, while allowing us to continuing building what we need to keep living our lives (sort of).