Speaker Interview: Noah Dietz of Google

We interview Noah Dietz, a Software Engineer at Google and speaker at the upcoming Austin Summit 2019.

Noah Dietz is a Software Engineer at Google, and we’re excited to announce that he’ll be talking APIs at our 2019 Austin API Summit later this year. During his session, Noah will share his knowledge on building intuitive, command line-friendly APIs.

“At the Austin API Summit, I will be discussing an approach to generating intuitive API consumption experiences on the command line. The talk will focus on gRPC APIs, but also refer to similar ideas for HTTP/JSON APIs. During the session, I will discuss command and argument structure with the goal of educating API consumers, strategies for producing an intuitive toolset, and some of the tools I built to practice this.”

“I hope other practitioners will find this useful in addressing an important consumption experience for their users: the command line.”

About Noah

Noah himself is relatively new to the world of APIs, having scored his first API internship at Apigee back in 2015, where he worked closely with the OpenAPI specification (formerly Swagger). That project never quite came to a close though, as he continues to maintain to this day it under the oatts label.

“My introduction to APIs was when I interned at Apigee in 2015. My project for the summer was building a test suite generator for OpenAPI (f.k.a Swagger) specifications. I continue to maintain that project and a follow-on project in open source, called oatts.”

Noah has since moved from API development to API management. Nowadays, he’s all about building and improving great developer (and consumer experiences)!

“From there I moved on to the API management side and today I focus on API consumption experiences. The importance of APIs in everyday technology and improving the experience of those developing and consuming APIs is what drove me to the space.”

APIs Moving Forward

As with all of our guests for this year, we asked Noah what he’s expecting for the world of APIs in 2019, in terms of design trends. Noah’s unique and extremely interesting answer points to just how accessible and consumer-facing APIs are becoming:

“I am looking forward to seeing how API design incorporates APIs as a human-oriented interface as well as a machine-oriented one. More often now APIs act as the on-ramp to a product. Regardless of the consumption environment, there is a person involved in the process of consuming an API. How can we design APIs to intrinsically educate consumers about a company, their design approach and desired consumption experience regardless of the environment?”

In terms of rolling out APIs into new and fast-growing areas of technology, like the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, Noah similarly thinks that APIs can be a powerful tool for representing growing amounts of ever-more-expansive data:

“Using APIs to represent complex concepts and abstract away low-level details (relative to the field) will drive the adoption & creation of APIs in emerging fields.”

API Consumption

Who better to ask about developer experience and API consumption than Noah? His thoughts are that consistency is key: developers and consumers alike should be able to learn and effectively use that learning across all stages of the creation process.

“Consistency across consumption environments is an important aspect of the developer experience with an API, if not the most important. Regardless of which consumption channel I first use an API through, I should be able to take the knowledge from there and apply it through other avenues.”

“Trying out an API with cURL should directly lead into consuming a client library that reflects the organization in the raw request. One of the easiest ways to confuse and lose consumers is to have a variety of experiences between platforms and environments for a single API.”

As for the role of APIs in modern tech architectures, Noah believes that APIs are an excellent tool for representing data (as he mentioned earlier, with regard to those emerging tech fields) — and their value ultimately comes back to effective consumption:

Regardless of the architecture, microservices or monolith, APIs are the face of a system and its composite systems. APIs need to represent data and services in an intuitive way to grow in users as well as scale in capability. It then becomes important to have a robust ecosystem for consumption, which is enabled by API design that prioritizes the consumption experience.

Final Thoughts

To lighten things up a little, we asked Noah for his favorite “useless” API. We’re excited to see the same answer as in another of our speaker interviews:

“The Star Wars API: https://swapi.co”

The Star Wars API exposes all sorts of information about the Star Wars universe, including data for its planets, characters, and spaceships. Pretty cool, right?

Even more important for us, Noah is looking forward to our Austin API Summit, where he too hopes to broaden his horizons and — you guessed it — munch on some of that sweet Texan BBQ!

“During the upcoming event, I’m excited to hear about how API producers are thinking about their API consumption experience to see what they are doing about it. I am also excited for enjoying the barbecue Austin is famous for!”