A Full API Picture and a Heavy Cognitive Load

I learn so much telling stories in the API space. I’ve been iterating upon a lifecycle diagram with my team over the last six months, and with each wave of changes I tend to share on social media just to see what everyone says. The current iteration, which I only shared on LinkedIn), is seeing a healthy bit of resharing, comments, and likes. I enjoy the different things that folks say about it, all which help me paint a fuller picture of how folks see the world around them within enterprise organizations.

A significant portion of the people who viewed this visual see much needed information they are missing from their view, and see it as an opportunity to add a handful of steps to how they deliver APIs. These people view this document as containing many of the missing pieces of the puzzle for their world. I definitely value the feedback from these folks, as there is clearly an appetite for more knowledge and structure regarding how they deliver APIs across their operations.

The next significant portion of people point out how it is too much. The simple days are gone, and this is just going back to the waterfall days. They don’t want to see the big picture, and actively push back on the reality that it exists. These people were genuinely upset and pushing back on the fact that I would suggest so many elements are involved with the reliable and consistent delivery of APIs today. These folks aren’t just uninterested in the big picture, and they deny it should exist.

After that, there was a group of people who could care less. They are comfortable with their position, and don’t have any aspiration to understand the big picture. They didn’t see any need to push back on my map of the larger landscape or challenge the information it contained. “Meh” was their position. Honestly, I find this area one of the most interesting out of all the people who responded, because you actually want and count on people being like this across your enterprise if you are leadership.

This is why I publish images like this. Not because I am declaring that everyone should follow my master plan, or even be aware of it, and support it. I publish these stories to elicit a response from people, learn, evolve, and iterate upon my storytelling around these visuals. It is extremely revealing to have people tell me I am being “waterfall” when I am just mapping out the reality that exists behind some successful APIs. I am not saying this is THE formula everyone should follow. I am just saying that it is A formula, and how do all of these elements apply in your world—-or not.

I actually do not believe there is one right way to do APIs. I don’t believe there are entirely wrong ways to do APIs. I am just fascinated by how people do APIs, see APIs, and participate, collaborate, or push back on how we do APIs. I thoroughly enjoy mapping out all the building blocks of this world and then presenting them to others to understand how they view the landscape around them, and use it to frame where they fit into the overall landscape. Not everyone wants to see the full API picture, and not everyone can deal with the cognitive load associated with the big picture. And this is OK.