This is the second article in a series I have decided to title I can REST when I’m Alive. This article came about by my increasing respect and awe for what we do here at Stoplight and what engineers are doing all over the world. An homage to the folks who work in one of the most abstract, complex, and enticing industries I have ever been a part of.
After months of trials and tribulations I came to terms with the API landscape in a general sense. I followed the API Evangelist’s every word and dug deep into the NordicAPIs archives. I began using parts of our platform but when I went to the API Strategy & Practice Conference, I realized how little I actually knew.
We had a steady stream of attendees visiting our booth at the conference and I was completely unprepared for the sheer diversity of questions we were asked. I’ve sold clothes, outdoor equipment, food, and some other basic items and in every case it was just a simple exchange. In regards to the API space, it is an exercise in extreme complex problem solving. Every person we met had a difference use case, a unique workflow. They used different languages, had different purposes, and wanted different results. In response, my fellow employees would essentially brainstorm a solution, come up with a workaround (hack something together as engineers like to say), or figure out a way to repurpose our software for their designs. This is an extremely demanding task that left my coworkers brain dead by the end of every day.
Schematic Drawings of Lewis and Clark’ Caverns
The difficulty lies at the heart at what it means to be in tech. Unlike the retail industry, or food services, the tech industry is in many regards, still in its nascent form. It is an ever changing landscape, like sand dunes, that degrade and reassemble simultaneously, always shifting, never permanent. We have just begun to scratch the surface of what can be accomplished. Each engineer that has managed to navigate through the tech landscape has had a different experience. They have cobbled together different means of exploration, created distinct tools, and have come to understand the space through their own unique perspective. There are no books on the frontier, and the edge of the map continues to be explored like Lewis and Clark on Red Bull and Hot Pockets.
That is how Stoplight came about. Our CEO and Founder, Marc MacLeod, was working as a Freelance Engineer, in the increasingly important API space. He needed a tool that didn’t exist so he went ahead and created one out of necessity. A tool that allowed him to easily model and test the APIs he was creating, and Stoplight was born.
What followed was a cavalcade of use cases stretching from the ordinary to the absurd. If we look at Stoplight as a screwdriver, each of our users has a different kind of screw head or has nails. Like manufacturers trying to keep up with USB-C, we are consistently creating new “dongles” to integrate into any number of existing or theoretical use cases and that is the norm. It is an extremely demanding process of patience, vision, determination, and most of all, complex problem solving.