ProductTank Singapore: Slaying the API Beast by Ridzwan Aminuddin

In this ProductTank Singapore talk, Ridzwan Aminuddin compares “speaking API” to “speaking engineering”. He delivers a bit-by-bit explanation of API fundamentals to bridge the gap between product managers and developers.

In non-technical terms, an API is “a stable contract for communications between computer services” – essentially, a mechanism that allows computer services to speak with each other. Developers treat APIs as products, building them independently to fulfill certain functions and purposes, but product managers can learn to “live, eat, breathe” API too. This will take them closer to developers and closer to reaching that nirvana!

Here are the basics: in human communications, meaning is established through various forms of spoken language, but the world of the web requires direct and specific communication contracts. Ridzwan explains that the following building blocks make computer communication possible:

  1. Request
  2. Response
  3. Data
  4. Authentication
  5. Headers

So, APIs require these fundamentals to operate, but no two APIs are the same. At times this is problematic, but sustained focus on these five steps is usually fine for API building.

Why is an understanding of this important to product managers? It helps them to:

  • Speak the speak of product developers and converse with engineers on their level.
  • Access opportunities to monetise APIs as a product.
  • Integrate with partnership organisations through APIs.

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