The State of API Development and the Upcoming ASC 2021 – A closeup with Mandy Whaley, Azure Dev Tools, Microsoft

By August 24, 2021Blog, Events

ASC 2021 is being held virtually Sept 28-29 this year with an incredible array of API experts, users, and enthusiasts. OpenAPI Specification (OAS), RAML, Blueprint, gRPC, OData, JSON Schema, GraphQL, and AsynchAPI will all be topics at ASC 2021, enabling attendees to get familiar with these formats and discuss how to use them in practice.

The event has its origins in the API Strategy and Practice Conference (APIStrat) which ran for many years and became part of the OpenAPI Initiative in 2016. The collaborative spirit and community from APIStrat continue with ASC, and we look forward to many lively conversations and debates this year!

To find out more about ASC 2021, we talked with Mandy Whaley, Partner Director of Product, Azure Developer Tools at Microsoft. Whaley is a life-long software developer who has worked in development teams of all sizes and types. The team she leads at Microsoft builds the Microsoft Azure SDK, Azure dev tools for Visual Studio and VS Code, and works with groups across the company on API design and developer experience. Whaley will be a keynote speaker at ASC 2021 and is a great example of the type of skilled, experienced, and – most importantly – accessible people who come and participate in ASC every year. 

What’s the biggest problem with API development in 2021? 

The biggest challenge right now is the tension between the demand for development velocity and the need to design and build consistent, easy to use APIs that are long lasting and stable. It’s a balancing act. 

This isn’t a new problem, of course, but APIs exist now in more layers and in more places than ever before. That means there are more teams involved and more dependencies.  Outcome focused, customer-centric API design powered by tools that help teams understand how developers actually use the APIs is critical. 

Many API development teams are also facing challenges related to scale, throttling, security, and long running operations. These are all areas where the API community has the opportunity to define patterns and practices that will help both API producers and consumers. 

How will API development be different in a year from now? 3 years from now? 

APIs are becoming a central part of how every team builds software. We see this happening as more teams adopt microservices, and as more companies rely on both internal and public APIs for core parts of the business. The types of APIs we build are also changing, and teams need to understand how to expand their API guidelines and design practices beyond REST. Over the next three years, API development is going to mature across all dimensions including security, tooling, testing, design, and observability. I am excited to be a part of the community working to create these new capabilities. 

How important are API skills for getting hired into your Dev Tools teams at Microsoft? 
Our team works on a broad scope of developer experience topics in the Developer Division at Microsoft.  We build VS Code and Visual Studio extensions as well as the Azure SDK. We also lead our Azure API Guidelines and architecture reviews. We work with teams on REST API design and on language-specific APIs for Python, JavaScript, Java, Go, and .NET. API skills are important for both our product management and engineering team members because every team member needs to be able to think through how an API or SDK detail will affect the developer experience. We look for API skills when hiring for senior level positions, and we mentor team members to help them grow their API skills. 

What do you personally hope to get out of presenting at ASC 2021? 

Practitioner-lead conferences are my favorite type of event. I am looking forward to connecting with other people who think deeply about APIs and work with all the possibilities and challenges related to designing, building, and maintaining APIs. I have learned so much from the API community and I am excited to give back by helping build a community where we all can learn from each other. 

Apart from presenting, is there one presentation in particular at ASC 2021 that you want to attend? 
I am eager to attend the full event and am blocking off time so I can attend with the same focused mindset that I would have at an in-person event – except with the bonus that I can be with my dogs and eat my favorite snacks at home. 

Here are just a few of the sessions that I am really excited about: 


OpenAPI Resources

To learn more about participate in the evolution of the OpenAPI Specification: https://www.openapis.org/participate/how-to-contribute

About the OpenAPI Initiative

The OpenAPI Initiative (OAI) was created by a consortium of forward-looking industry experts who recognize the immense value of standardizing on how APIs are described. As an open governance structure under the Linux Foundation, the OAI is focused on creating, evolving and promoting a vendor neutral description format. The OpenAPI Specification was originally based on the Swagger Specification, donated by SmartBear Software. To get involved with the OpenAPI Initiative, please visit https://www.openapis.org

About Linux Foundation

Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation projects like Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js and more are considered critical to the development of the world’s most important infrastructure. Its development methodology leverages established best practices and addresses the needs of contributors, users and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration. For more information, please visit us at linuxfoundation.org.