API Specifications Conference 2021
Quick notes from my first time at the API Specifications Conference.
The API Specifications Conference is pretty much what you'd expect: a conference all about API specifications, and related tooling and processes. In 2021 it was a two-day virtual event on 28th and 29th September.
ASC 2021 used Hopin as its virtual conference platform. From an attendee point of view, I'm a fan of Hopin. It's easy to find your way around, and generally a good experience.
The conference was multi-track and ran for two days. I'm not going to attempt notes on all the talks I attended. Overall, I enjoyed the talks, and learned a lot. There was a good amount of variety - whether your focus was tooling, process, business, documentation, or the details of specs themselves, you'd have found something of interest here. The only requirement was an enthusiasm for APIs.
API trends - summary by Mike Jang
I attended 7 out of maybe 45 talks. But from those talks, I saw trends:
Leaders in the OpenAPI space have evolved. As suggested by the talks at the API Specifications conference, they've moved in several directions:
Documentation driven development:
They're looking for APIs where use cases and parameters are defined "up front". They want APIs that customers and other API end users can understand at a glance. They're using tools such as Dredd, Spectral, and Schemathesis to test and confirm that newly developed APIs meet the requirements defined in the up-front documentation. Guess: OpenAPI plans to incorporate DDD in a future OpenAPI specification
OpenAPI leaders are working more closely with OWASP. They want API developers to create with security in mind. They're looking at tools like OWASP Zap to assure conformance with the OWASP API Top 10.
OpenAPI leaders are embracing changes that address concerns with the synchronous nature of RESTful APIs. To that end, they're supporting the efforts of the AsyncAPI project. OpenAPI leaders see promise in the legal and regulatory landscape, Based on US Supreme Court decisions (Oracle v. Google, and VanBuren v. US), as well as the EU Digital Markets act, they see an emerging era of openness in API development. Watch for future developments in Competition, Algorithms, Tracking, and Speech.
The people behind OpenAPI believe in open source. They're looking for people to help drive the future of APIs.
I experienced an open discussion format for the first time at a virtual conference. I'd like to see it done again, it had potential - but there needs to be more than one facilitator, to help get conversation going.
Constructive feedback for virtual conferences
I love virtual conferences. They reduce a lot of the stress and cost of attending, they're environmentally responsible, and when run well on a good platform they can be just as educational and social as an in-person event. However there are two things I've yet to see done well at virtual conferences, and ASC 2021 was no different:
- Expos / vendor booths: often, these just run marketing videos on loop. This is nowhere close to the experience in-person, and usually makes me wonder why the companies bothered at all. Even the ones that make an effort and have some sort of live demo or Q&A going on don't quite seem to capture the feel of an in-person booth. I'm not sure what the fix is here.
- Swag: I don't like in-person swag. The last thing we need is more junk (and I am not going to use my laptop or myself as an advertising billboard). But virtual events would seem to open up great possibilities here: collect virtual badges of events attended? Hand out product discounts or extended free trials? Provide early access to electronic learning materials to attendees? No-one even seems to be trying this.
Constructive feedback for myself
Take time off, you fool!
In my defense, I had planned to take time off, but it just wasn't possible. The conference experience definitely suffered because of it: I had hoped to join in the social side, and didn't. And I got to fewer talks than I'd have liked to. I definitely didn't make as much of the opportunity as I would have if I hadn't tried to fit in a full day's work, then conference through the evening, then repeat for day 2 . . .