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ASC 2021

This Year’s API Specification Conference (ASC 2021) by the Numbers

By Blog

This year’s API Specifications Conference (ASC) organized by the OpenAPI initiative was held virtually from September 28 through 29, 2021. The conference continues to grow by leaps and bounds and is gaining the attention of people interested in API technology. It was a real thrill hearing from industry experts discussing topics such as OpenAPI Specifications, RAML, Blueprint, gRPC, OData, JSON, Schema, GraphQL, AsyncAPI and other formats. For example, the keynote presentation Leading API efforts at scale by Mandy Whaley & Yina Arenas, Microsoft, So you think you understand JSON Schema? By Ben Hutton, Postman/JSON Schema. Or AsyncAPI 2.0: Enabling the Event-Driven World by Someshekhar Banerjee, Ebay.The discussions helped attendees get acquainted with the different formats and also learn how to practically use them.

The full Linux Foundation report on ASC 2021, “Transparency Report: API Specifications Conference (ASC) 2021” is available now (PDF).

We had attendance from 319 people from 37 countries—with a majority of them attending up to 10 sessions. 

The survey conducted after the conference showed that 89% of the attendees rated the content delivered at the conference as “Great” or “Excellent.”

The charge for the entire conference was $39 and 10 community scholarships were given to active members of the open source community. OpenAPI donated $10 from each registration fee and a total of $2,500 was donated to Code2040 in support of their mission. Code2040 is growing racial equity lens in the tech industry through their Fellows Program with technology companies. The conference received a Gold badge with the highest rating from the CHAOSS D&I Event Badging Program, showing that we promote healthy D&I practices.

Online events have created an opportunity for us to reach new audiences and expand our reach. For those that missed the conference or would like to watch the event again, the keynote and session recordings are available on our YouTube Channel. Speaker presentations are also available for download under each talk here.


Download the full Linux Foundation report on ASC 2021, “Transparency Report: API Specifications Conference (ASC) 2021” (PDF).

Arnaud Lauret, the API Handyman, Covers His Top 4 Must-Attend Sessions at ASC 2021

By Blog, Events

We talked with Arnaud Lauret, well known as the API Handyman and author of The Design of Web APIs, to find out more about the upcoming ASC 2021 (Sept 28-29)

Lauret is presenting “Taking advantage of OpenAPI for API Design reviews” on Tuesday, September 28 starting at 11:20am PDT.

Lauret is a Senior API Architect at Natixis, based in Paris, France, currently helping everyone from executives to developers to understand what APIs are, why they matter and “how to do them.” He helps teams design their APIs by reviewing and challenging their designs, providing training and building API design guidelines.

During your live API design review demo session at ASC 2021, what are the top 3 key API design principles you will be covering?

Inside/Out, semantic, and consistency. 

An API that is just a technical connector giving access to the underlying mess, throwing bluntly the inside to the outside, will be a total nightmare for consumers but also for providers. On the consumer side, people will get a complex API requiring a high level of expertise, requiring much effort to do simple things. On the provider side, you may have to fear unexpected consequences such as data corruption or security breaches.

Semantic is very important, the meaning of words is critical when designing an API. Choose the wrong word and people may not understand your intent, what the API is supposed to do, which value to provide or what they can do with returned data.

And last not but least of this top 3: consistency. Designing a consistent API is hard but it’s worth the cost. Being consistent with the rest of the world will make developers feel at home when they see your API for the first time. Being consistent across your APIs and within them will make developers able to make connections easily between operations, data models, or parameters and so they will be able to master your API without even thinking about it.  

Can an API design review be based on facts, not opinions? Is this possible?

Yes. It’s not always that easy, but that’s what I try to do. An API design review based on baseless opinions has absolutely no interest. People don’t care if you prefer blue over orange. The question is why blue is better than orange in a given context. Everything that is proposed must be backed with reasonable explanations, facts. 

Having guidelines is really a great help: those predefined rules provide factual arguments that everyone agrees on. But guidelines can’t solve all design questions, they provide only high level guidance, there always will be more specific functional/business questions leading to multiple possible designs. Each one conforming to guidelines. But which one is the “right” one? You’ll have to find “facts” to make a decision, you can take advantage of your knowledge of business rules, what will come in the near future, … As long as a solution has a valid explanation everyone agrees on, that’s a review based on facts.

What other presentations will you be attending at ASC 2021 and why?

Actually, I wish I could attend them all! There are so many interesting sessions, but here’s my top 4: 

  • API Terms of Service : From Creative commons to Machine readability – Célya Gruson-Daniel, COSTECH & Mehdi Medjaoui: I’m a “machine-readability nerd,” I love this idea of trying to structure the unstructured because it simplifies both machines’ and humans’ job. Bringing machine-readability to TOS could have a major impact for me. It could simplify the comparison between service providers; and as a person participating to call for proposal processes to choose software solutions, I would be very happy with just that. And I’m sure there are other totally crazy outcomes. I can’t wait to attend to this one!  
  • We brought OpenAPI Docs into our service catalog. Now what? – Shai Sachs & Zoe Song, Wayfair: I work in a large organisation, many different teams, many different APIs and that is not easy. The Wayfair session resonates with my context and they will also talk about Backstage open source service catalog that I’m interested in.
  • Finding Ways to Measure the Complexity of an API Design – Stephen Mizell, API Consultant: I help people design APIs and I design APIs. It’s not always easy to evaluate if a design is complex or not. Sometimes it just feels complex or simple, and I don’t like that, relying on just baseless feeling. I would prefer to back my evaluation by something more concrete, true facts if possible. That’s why I really look forward to what Stephen has to say on that topic.
  • Mistakes to avoid during API Specification Reviews – Rahul Dighe, PayPal: I have done hundreds of API design reviews. I have learned much, found solutions to various situations, but sometimes they don’t work or I can face totally new situations. That’s why I’m always interested in learning from what others do because they may have found other solutions to the same problems or be in a totally different context facing different situations. 

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

By Blog, 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: 

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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

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