The inaugural APIdays New Zealand, held on Monday 19 October at the Viaduct Events Centre, was a sold out event, showing a strong local appetite to discuss the power of APIs in business and enterprise. Amongst attendees and speakers alike, APIs were seen as the core enabler that allows enterprises and SMEs to transform into digital businesses.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are at the heart of current discussions around the digital transformation of business, said co-organizer Saul Caganoff, CTO of consultancy group Sixtree. “The forces of change in tech at the moment are bigger than anything we have seen since we moved off the mainframe in the eighties, and for every single facet of these forces — mobile, cloud, IoT and data — APIs are at the center,” Caganoff said.
Over 250 developers and IT enterprise leads participated in a program that spanned both business and technical considerations. Talks included leaders at NZ Post, ASB Bank and Xero sharing their experience on enabling an API strategy in their business. Technical discussions from Deloitte Digital, Saasu, and BNZ included best practices in hosting a developer portal, how to design an API from scratch, and how to test microservices and APIs.
The day started with two keynotes: API author and evangelist, Adam DuVander shared four key lessons from his 10+ years in API management. DuVander focused on how APIs can help a business scale by engaging with developers, how to encourage new customer channels and byproducts to be created via APIs, and warned of some of the limitations and failures that might be experienced when embarking on an API strategy.
Head of API Design for PayPal, Jason Harmon, stepped the audience through best practices processes that are used at PayPal to create some of the most widely used APIs existing today. Harmon started with a focus on broader design principles that can be applied to API development before peppering his discussion with an extensive list of resources available for API development teams including an API Style Guide and Cucumber (a way for developers to work with non-technical partners when describing and testing API design).
“We were delighted that attendees got a lot from the two days,” said co-organizer Gillian Clark, CEO of Hypr. “Everyone came away with something: I spoke to one of New Zealand’s most experienced API developers who traveled up from Wellington and he said that he thought he might come away with one new insight and instead came away with three gems he can use in his work immediately.”
Some of the key discussions on the day included:
The need to treat an API as a product with its own business leadership team, even if the API is just for internal use. APIs need resourcing to ensure they can benefit a business and drive new innovation.
API security and API testing are different to the standard application security or application testing methodologies and need to be considered separately, but both fields are still in their infancy.
There are a range of open source projects available for API developers, including developer portal templates, API definition language formats, monitoring tools, and design tools.
Businesses including Amnesty International NZ, NZ Post, Xero, Cemplicity and ASB are finding new success in terms of more efficient and cost-effective business processes and greater market reach from using APIs in their organisations.
APIdays will publish summaries of talks on their global blog site and have established a partnership with InfoQ to share some videos of sessions from the day. Work is already underway to plan a two-day conference next year.