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This Fortnight in APIs, Release IV

By Ashley Waxman on .

This post is the fourth in a series that collects news stories from the previous two weeks and is curated lovingly by the Runscope Developer Relations team. The topics span APIs, microservices, developer tools, best practices, funny observations and more.

For when the web we weave is pretty tangled:

The rise in popularity of APIs naturally comes with a rise in API services, like API design, API management and API monitoring, to name a few. Many of these providers offer their own APIs as well, but to have longevity as an API service, Kin Lane says you’d better be offering an API that provides at least as much functionality as your core offering does. In Bringing API Building Blocks to Life as the APIs of Service Providers, Lane explores the history of API service providers and how the relationship between API providers and consumers is becoming increasingly intertwined.

For when you want more than emoji in your messaging app:

On the heels of its IPO filing last month, Atlassian is putting more juice behind its popular messaging platform HipChat in what is now a highly competitive marketplace. The company announced the beta version of HipChat Connect, which lets external apps run inside the HipChat app in the right-hand pane so users no longer have to exit out to another app window. For developers, this launch gives a lot of freedom, allowing them to build apps in their own language and framework that can interact with HipChat rooms and various views, integrating through RESTful APIs, OAuth and JWT. HipChat already integrates with external apps, but those only provide a quick glimpse or notification. HipChat Connect will allow for form embeds and linking custom actions to other services as well.

For when you can’t seem to catch those pesky failed API calls:

It’s safe to say that most of the apps we know and love are powered by multiple APIs: a maps API, social sharing API, payments API, etc. While we have the tools to proactively monitor many of the APIs we rely on, not all of the API calls critical to our business can be simulated. For instance, if you’re a retailer and a customer attempts to make a purchase within your app but the payment API fails with that API call, you couldn’t have faked a real payment to monitor it in the first place. Enter Live Traffic Alerts, the latest product feature from Runscope and the first real-time API monitoring solution to catch exceptional and failed API calls as they happen. You can learn more about the difference between proactive and real-time API monitoring in our free upcoming webinar.

For when you found a niche in the market and it turns out to be a goldmine:

Checkr, which automates professional background checking with a powerful API, is raising Series B funding of more than $30 million. The company provides background check services for the likes of Uber, Instacart and Handy, and is filling a growing need for quickly vetting contractors as more and more companies are staffing people to provide on-demand services like driving, grocery shopping and erranding, to name a few. What’s exciting about this news is that Checkr is led by a well designed and documented RESTful API, further supporting the value of API-powered businesses.

For when a picture is worth a thousand characters:

If you’re a developer, the need for optical character recognition (OCR) tools have likely popped up for you at least a few times in your career. While there are a few open source solutions out there like GOCR and Google Tesseract, you can now you can file this problem under the “there’s an API for that” category. The free OCR API is a handy tool that lets you take images and extract their text. The API gives results in JSON and works on any image or PDF.

For when you want to lighten your load:

Open-source load balancer HAproxy released some significant upgrades last week with its latest version 1.6.0. Many companies use this high performance load balancer, including us at Runscope for our microservices architecture. This new version offers several performance improvements through server connection multiplexing and more efficient HTTP compression. Perhaps the biggest new features are the integration of Lua, a scripting language, and support for variables and captures, which allow you to store session data in a more straightforward way.

For when you need to play tour guide for your customers:

Even the most well designed app can be difficult to follow for a newbie who stumbles upon it. However, the helicopter parent approach that some companies take to give new users a tour of the app can backfire by being too invasive, overwhelming or poorly targeted. At Cushion, the team has taken these pains into consideration to optimize its app’s onboarding checklistThis article walks you through great and not-so-great ways to guide a user through your app, and provides a few best practices, like stay out of the user’s way and let them skip any and all steps.

For when a little birdie brings you a giant olive branch:

One of the major headlines of the week was CEO-again of Twitter Jack Dorsey apologizing for the company turning its back on the open developer community several years ago, vowing to “reset” their relationship. At Flight, Twitter’s Developer Conference, the company brought out two developer advocates who discussed providing tooolkits to help developers build great apps and further extend Dorsey’s olive branch. Twitter is certainly putting a lot of effort around mending its relationship with the developer community, though some wonder if it’s going to be enough. In our last post, we talked about Twitter turning off its public API and putting it behind a paywall, and the company also just had a controversial launch of its new polling feature. With these changes, it will be interesting to see how the company positions its APIs if it wants developers to not only use them, but want to use them. The company’s overall message at Flight puts the end-user first and is attempting to reposition Twitter as a supporting player in the app world, as opposed to the star. One thing we can all learn from the ever-evolving relationship between Twitter and developers is that companies need to be very clear and think long-term about what their contract is with the developer community, including the business model behind those contracts and how to manage communication when changes need to be made.

Notice something we missed? Put your favorite stories of the past fortnight in the comments below, or email us your feedback!

Categories: apis, api ecosystem, this fortnight in apis

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