Constant questioning is one of the ten values that form the pillar of Percolate’s corporate culture. Asking ‘why’ and being curious are virtues that are best achieved by bringing people with similar interests together. As a company focused on delivering The System of Record for Marketing, Percolate facilitates many forums targeted at bringing marketers together, the most important of which is our upcoming Transition conference. However, Percolate is also a company built on a leading-edge technology platform. It is therefore only natural for us to also bring technologists together. This is exactly what we did last week when we hosted the joint API Craft and Write the Docs meetup at our San Francisco offices.

The event focused on the topic of API documentation. In attendance were 82 people with a wonderfully varied background including startup founders, doc writers, developers, and software architects. This mix proved to provide for a lively, interactive, and highly insightful discussion. Three presentations were on the menu, and each of them had its own takeaway:

  1. API documentation needs to be thoughtful
  2. APIs are as much about people than they are about technology
  3. Proper documentation of real world APIs can be complex

img_4413

We began with Roman Huet, Head of Developers Relations at Stripe, who wowed us with Stripe’s latest API documentation innovations. One of the most striking elements of his presentation was the depth of thought that the Stripe team has placed in ensuring that their documentation is reflective of the reader’s own context with capabilities such as snippets that update based on test API calls made by the reader, as well as example API request/response information that reflect the user’s own data.

Roman’s talk was followed by Zdeněk Němec who delightfully – using the constructs of Turks, Aliens, and Thinking – made the point that APIs are as much about people than they are about technology.

Finally, we had Percolate’s own Director of Frontend Engineering Guillaume Mathieu walking through the real-world challenges of documenting complex APIs in a complete and reliable way. To do this, Guillaume walked through the pros and cons of Percolate’s historical approach to documenting APIs, which has ultimately resulted in the current Percolate API documentation.

The meetup attendees, the presenters, and their amazing content, combined with pizza and beverages at hand, proved to be a great mix for post-meetup debates and discussions that I think truly reflected Percolate’s value of constant questioning.

Many thanks to the meetup’s organizers, Mehdi Medjaoui, Emmanuel Paraskakis, and Juan Lara, for their hard work and in allowing us to act as hosts in this forum.