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Q&A with Ryan Park: Runscope Engineer and AWS Community Hero

By Neil Mansilla on .

Ryan is a Principal Engineer at Runscope. Recently, Ryan was included in the AWS Community Hero Program. The program was created by Amazon Web Services to recognize AWS experts who go above and beyond to share their expertise and knowledge with the greater cloud community. Prior to Runscope, Ryan led technical operations at Pinterest, and before that, at PBworks. I sat down with Ryan and asked him to share a few things about himself and a few Runscope behind-the-scenes facts.

Q: What is your role at Runscope? What are the main types of problems that you focus on?

I'm a member of the software engineering team at Runscope, where I focus on technical operations. "Technical operations" encompasses the work that keeps Runscope up and running: setting up new infrastructure, identifying performance bottlenecks, and building tools to make this work easy and automatic.

Q: How does Runscope use Amazon Web Services?

Runscope runs most of its server infrastructure on Amazon EC2 (although some service regions are powered by other providers). Amazon EC2 is the most comprehensive cloud platform on the market right now, with features like private networking, a strong API, and 9 locations around the world.

We also use Amazon DynamoDB to store data for many of our microservices, and we use Amazon Route 53 to manage our DNS. Route 53's latency-based routing lets us route customer traffic to the nearest service region, which helps us provide a fast experience for all our customers around the world.

As a small (but growing) engineering team, it's been incredibly helpful to be able to rely on a service provider like Amazon to run our low-level infrastructure. As an example, earlier this month we added a service region in Japan. Thanks to Amazon's global presence, it only took us a couple hours of engineering to expand our service to Japan.

Q: Does Runscope use a lot of other cloud services? Which components are managed in-house, and which components are trusted to Runscope's partners?

Yes, we've relied heavily on cloud services for many parts of our infrastructure. For example, we've used Keen IO to power some of the performance and usage analytics in Runscope Metrics. We also use lower-level services like Mandrill to deliver email notifications to our customers.

We believe it's important to focus on our core competency -- API debugging and testing -- and to control our own infrastructure when it's directly relevant to those core competencies. We're happy to rely on our partners to keep everything else up and running.

Have a penchant for DevOps? We're hiring!

Runscope is looking for a DevOps Engineer to plan, build and automate a modern distributed and service-powered infrastructure. To find out more about what it's like to work at Runscope and see other open positions, visit this page.



Insights from New Relic's FutureStack Conference

By Neil Mansilla on .

At New Relic’s FutureStack conference, Runscope was on the ground as a partner, sponsor and exhibitor. Over one thousand attendees came to Fort Mason in San Francisco to learn about New Relic’s application performance monitoring (APM) and other partner solutions. Runscope had product and engineering team members available to talk shop about API testing, monitoring and engage in friendly games of 4-player Mario Kart. What did we learn after two days of non-stop conversations with developers, hundreds of Runscope live demos and countless laps around Mario Kart Stadium?

Developers prefer simplicity: assertions with no coding required

A Runscope feature that developers loved was being able to define test assertions without programming. The most common assertion criteria (i.e. response code, JSON and XML object key values, response size, response time, etc.) and comparison operators can be configured through an intuitive user interface. Scripted (JavaScript) assertions are also available for those that require more advanced logic in their tests.

Developers love webhooks

Part of our live demo included the integration with New Relic’s analytics and dashboard tool, Insights. With just two input fields and a click, test data is instantly synced with Insights. By far, the most common followup questions asked were, “What data is being sent to Insights?” and “Can I send the data to our internal data warehouse?” The answers: everything and yes, respectively.

Runscope makes it a snap to integrate with other services like New Relic Insights, PagerDuty, Keen IO, Slack and HipChat; however, pumping Runscope Radar test data into any of your apps can be done using webhooks and the Runscope API. All of the important test result data, such as assertion status, response time (ms), response size (bytes) and more, is included in both webhooks and the API.

Kids just aren’t just coding, they’re keynoting

Sporting Google Glass, 12 year old developer Alannah Forster was happy to talk to anyone about her coding skills and projects as she strolled around FutureStack. She even gave us some tips on how to hack on the fancy WiFi conference badges. On day two, she was up on the keynote stage with New Relic CEO, Lew Cirne. Meanwhile, back at the Runscope lounge, 14 year old developer and hackathon veteran David Tesler cleverly customized his title on his digital lanyard.

Overall, we had a great time at FutureStack connecting with hundreds of developers and the next generation of coders. If you’re a New Relic user and want integrate Runscope with Insights, click here to learn how.


Going Native at Xamarin Evolve

By Neil Mansilla on .

Last week, Xamarin held their Evolve conference that centered around cross-platform mobile development. Runscope developer advocate Darrel Miller attended the conference and gave a fantastic talk titled, "HATEOAS - Hypermedia As The Evader Of App Stores." Read Darrel's recap of his experience at Evolve.

This past week I spent in Atlanta, Georgia, attending Xamarin Evolve and Atlanta Code Camp.  This was the second annual Evolve conference and attendance went from 600 the first year to 1200 this year.  This year’s event was an impressive affair.

Cultivating an Niche

Not only did the number of attendees grow significantly from last year, there were 700 of those people who attended the pre-conference training sessions.  This is a significant amount of demand for what is perceived by some to be a fairly expensive set of tools to build cross-platform native mobile applications.

As Mike Beverly notes, Xamarin are making the transition from a place where C# .Net developers go to create iOS and Android versions of their applications, to a cross platform solution for developers of all platforms who are prepared to learn C# and .net.

The idea that you can build mobile applications that have the look and feel of the native platform, but share a significant chunk of client code between platforms is a lofty goal.  One that Xamarin seem to be making significant progress towards.

Read the rest of Darrel's post...


Recap: API Strategy & Practice Conference, Chicago

By Neil Mansilla on .

The other week, while Darrel was discussing hypermedia over moonshine at RESTFest, John and I headed out to Chicago for the API Strategy & Practice conference. This was the fourth APIStrat since it's inaugural event in New York (Feb 2013), and for many in the API space it’s growing into a crowd favorite. APIStrat is organized by API management company 3Scale and API evangelist, Kin Lane.

There were three tracks at APIStrat: providers, developers and industry verticals. The tracks were jam-packed with experienced speakers and relevant topics (both a blessing and a curse). The conference center at the Hyatt Regency was large enough to be comfortable amongst the 400+ attendees, but small enough so that quickly jumping between tracks was easy. I attended several keynotes and stuck to the providers and developers tracks.

The Hierarchy of Developer Needs

Julia Ferraioli, Senior Developer Advocate at Google, opened up APIStrat with her keynote (video) about developer needs. She spoke not only as a developer advocate for a platform company, but as a hardcore developer. Companies that are trying to build APIs that appeal to developers or improve the DX (developer experience) of their platform could spend years getting it wrong, ignoring the needs of developers. Julia’s shared her thoughtful and pragmatic approach to understanding what developers are really looking for in a platform. (spoiler: the hierarchy is dynamic)

Discovering New APIs: Developer Track and the Speed Hack

Sometimes, the best way to learn how to use an API doesn’t involve reading docs or pounding on your keyboard. Instead, it's best to let a developer evangelist hop on their computer and let them take you for a scenic test drive (a live demo). On the day one developer track, I hopped in the passenger seat, and did just that.

Esri was first on stage and introduced us to the ArcGIS APIs. Their platform goes way beyond the surface of plotting points and map tiles -- in fact, a large amount of their data is about what's underground! Next was Steve Marx, dev advocate at Dropbox who gave us speedy demo of their APIs. Watching API calls (file creation and deletion) trigger client side notifications on his Mac was nifty. Amber Feng, product engineering lead from Stripe, shared the story behind their very well-designed Stripe API. If you haven’t experienced Stripe’s developer portal and docs, I highly recommend it.

The Speed Hack was a mashup of a time-compressed hackathon (just 4 hours) and a puzzle-solving scavenger hunt. A handful of event sponsors crafted code challenges, that should have taken about 15 minutes each to complete. Competing teams raced to solve them and earned points. However, it just wasn't code that earned points — other challenges included composing and reciting an API poem, dressing up in a silly costume, or having the most creative team name. For a mini-event that took place within a conference it drew a large and energetic crowd.

John Sheehan (Runscope), Jason Harmon (PayPal) and Steve Marx (Dropbox), playing the tech news trivia game for the Traffic & Weather podcast.

John Sheehan (Runscope), Jason Harmon (PayPal) and Steve Marx (Dropbox), playing the tech news trivia game for the Traffic & Weather podcast.

Traffic and Weather

Steve (Dropbox) and John (Runscope) host a semi-regular podcast discussing the latest in APIs called Traffic and Weather. They broadcasted a special live podcast during APIStrat, in a format that paid homage to NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me radio news quiz. Complete with tech news headline fill-in-the-blank, API limericks, and heaps of shenanigans, Traffic and Weather was a huge hit, full with many unsolicited (and solicited) applauses. Winning contestants won either Steve Marx’s voice on their voice mail greeting or a bottle of water. Most opted for the latter. Want to watch it? Click here.

"Test Locally, Monitor Globally"

On day two, John gave a talk in the API Testing track. He discussed the importance of logging, monitoring and measuring API usage, and tactical advice on doing it effectively. Nothing beats a (working) live demo, and he pleased the crowd with some local environment API testing through the Runscope Radar Agent, as well as testing on an internet-based API from multiple locations around the world.

Jerry Yoakum (Expedia Affiliate Network API) and Emmelyn Wang (uShip API), both fantastic Runscope users, enjoying some IPAs post API conference.

Jerry Yoakum (Expedia Affiliate Network API) and Emmelyn Wang (uShip API), both fantastic Runscope users, enjoying some IPAs post API conference.

Wrap Up

Indeed, “API” is a buzzword du jour, so beware of any event who’s name bears it. However, the API Strategy & Practice conference is an event worthy of putting on your calendar. It attracts a lot of players from the API economy — developers, architects, and product owners from the provider side, as well as developers and integrators from the consumption side. A key benefit of APIs is how they enable businesses and people to more easily connect. APIStrat embodied that spirit well, with great content up on stage and amazing discussions between sessions. We're looking forward to the next APIStrat!

Categories: community, events

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