• Tuesday , 20 August 2019

APIStrat Boston to highlight link between APIs and open source projects

Code Canyon

This year’s API Strategy and Practice (known as APIStrat)—to be held in Boston on November 2-4—has a strong open source component running throughout the event, and with little wonder. Successful API strategies more often than not either contribute new open source projects, or draw on the rich source of tools already built by the open source community.

The API mindset has always lent itself to an open source ethos. APIs are all about opening up internal assets, data, and systems in order to connect and collaborate with a wider ecosystem of partners and end users. Amongst leadership businesses that have a strong API strategy, seeing so many contribute and use open source projects is not surprising, and this is reflected throughout this year’s APIStrat program. After all, two of the key specifications formats that are used across the industry to describe APIs—the Open API Initiative and RAML—are both open source projects. Projects like Mashape’s Kong and Tyk’s API Gateway are both open source and gaining greater recognition and uptake.

APIStrat speakers will present across two and a half days to share details of their open source usage and contributions. I reached out to a few of them to find out more about what they plan to cover in their talks.

Tyler Love, CTO at Bustle.com, will talk as part of a panel on how APIs are disrupting the media industry. He is a firm believer in open source and has ensured his team is contributing new tools in an open environment. “We are really focused on opening up tools that help others. We are doing things that are really different to what other media are doing and we are in a better position to share that,” Love says.

He points to how other media companies, such as The Daily Beast and Discovery.com, use their open source tools. Love doesn’t see Bustle’s competitive advantage as being located in their tooling, which has led them to opening up projects including:

  • Shep: A framework that automates many of the tasks that are associated with building APIs using Amazon Web Services API gateway and Lambda. Bustle says that in AWS, if you are building more than a couple of APIs, a lot of manual work is involved in compressing files, uploading them and configuring paths and function names. Shep allows all of these tasks to occur through one command-line interface command.
  • Mobile Doc Kit: This open source toolkit is a library for building WYSIWYG editors in mobiledoc format, which is a platform-agnostic content format that can be rendered without an HTML parser.

“I have a more holistic view around software,” Love says, explaining why they do not see tooling as a proprietary advantage. “I dont think the IP should be in the tool. I believe you can either play a part of the people building the tools in the open, or maybe in a closed IP you get an advantage for at the most a year, but I would rather play in the part that is better for the overall good.” Love says that when tooling is considered proprietary, it is easier for a business to end up maintaining cruft as they are too loyal to it.

Lorinda Brandon, Matthew Reinbold, and Abdelmonaim Remani will all be speaking from Capital One at APIStrat. As the U.S. bank has moved toward opening APIs as part of its push toward becoming an open banking platform, it has increasingly tried to demonstrate its developer goodwill by building in the open and sharing open source projects. To date this has included:

  • Hygieia: A realtime DevOps dashboard that makes it easier for developers to manage the development pipeline by integrating Jira, Git, Jenkins, and other tools into the one API layer and dashboard interface.
  • Cloud Custodian: A rules agent for infrastructure management. It lets users define policies for servers in a cloud fleet, and ensures real-time compliance to security, tag, and cost policies. Users can write policies in YAML config files, which are then enforced by either provisioning lambdas or as a cron job.

Attendees at this year’s API Strategy and Practice will also be curious to hear about how Red Hat is managing their new acquisition, 3scale, the API-management provider that is also one of the organizers (alongside API Evangelist) of APIStrat.

Mike Piech, Vice President and General Manager of Red Hats JBoss Middleware, says that APIs and open source work in both directions: “Open source is important for the API economy because once an API is in general use, the open source community can implement the API and rapidly iterate, innovate, and improve the performance, reliability, and scalability of the API. But APIs are important for open source as well. A fundamental characteristic and an important enabler of rapid innovation in the open source world is that you have an enormous number of different projects operating completely independently of each other. There is no overarching structure, organization, or governance. In such an environment, the only possible way for different technologies to effectively work together, which of course they must do, is for each to be very clear and rigorous about what its inputs and outputs are—in other words, what its API is. Defining, managing, extending, discovering, and engaging APIs are what API management is all about. API management is crucial in any environment that uses open source software.”

Co-organizer Steven Willmott agrees the audience will be curious to hear how Red Hat plans to create open source opportunities from its API management acquisition. “Red Hat is committed to open source through and through, and so were looking forward to open sourcing the 3scale solution as well. We anticipate that this can further boost adoption and enable more people to operate and manage APIs,” Willmott says.

API Strategy and Practice will be held at the Marriott Long Wharf in Boston November 2-4. Opensource.com readers are welcome to attend and can receive a 20% discount off ticket price by using the discount code PLTF20 or by registering directly at APIStrat.


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