Back in 2005, when ProgrammableWeb founder John Musser caught wind of the tsunami of APIs that were about to make landfall on the Internet — APIs like the ones for Google Maps and Flickr that debuted that year — he not only recognized the tipping point that was upon us, he seized the day. He founded ProgrammableWeb as the first and only destination dedicated to the community of Web developers and the API providers in their service.
That same year, while working as an executive editor at CNET, I caught wind of the same storm and used my evening hours to found Mashup Camp; a conference (actually, an unconference) dedicated to exactly the same community. After several months of planning, the first Mashup Camp took place during February 2006 at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley where we had to turn developers away at the door in order to stay in compliance with Mountain View’s fire code. There were many memorable moments from that first, often times chaotic, event. But one of them was when Musser — a complete stranger to me — asked on the first day “what do you need me to do?”
To this day, I still believe that some thing or some force preordained the crossing of our stars. As two founders who turned the same tipping point into brands that served the same community, not only did Musser and I forge an instantaneous friendship, we nearly forged a new company. In the two years after that first event, Musser never missed another Mashup Camp (which went global) nor did we miss the opportunity to talk about what could become of a merger between ProgrammableWeb and the Camp. I had been a tech journalist for more than 15 years and the idea of marrying a great event with a great media brand, all serving a single community, made perfect sense.
But this is where the forces at play conspired against us. Not necessarily in a bad way. At least not for Musser, or me. Mashup Camp and its sister events like Startup Camp went on to be acquired by United Business Media (UBM) and ProgrammableWeb was acquired by Alcatel-Lucent. As I often tell friends, at least one of my kids has their college education covered. My work must continue for the others.
So, when I learned that there might be an opportunity to talk to ProgrammableWeb’s new owner Mulesoft about leading the site as its editor in chief, there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation to throw my hat into the ring. This is a community that I know and love. It’s one that profoundly affected my life in a very positive way and I have had nothing but the utmost respect for what Musser and his team have built over the last eight years.
ProgrammableWeb is a classic example of early mover advantage. To this day, ProgrammableWeb is still the go-to destination on the Web for the community it was originally intended for — a community that continues to grow as the number of APIs and the data or functionality they unlock continues to proliferate. What makes APIs more exciting than they were “back in the old days” is how their influence is stretching well beyond Web application development into the mobile space and the Internet of Things.
With as many as 50 billion “things” from cars to fitness devices to microwave ovens expected to come online between now and 2020, HTTP-based APIs will clearly emerge as the defacto for exposing the majority of their functionality and data (SDKs and libraries will still be in the mix). The wave of innovation that follows will be primarily driven by developers making use of those APIs (the same developers that hang out on ProgrammableWeb).
While these revolutions are underway, ProgrammableWeb will be there every step of the way, drawing attention to the developments that matter most, easing access to API discovery and alerting, and offering the sort of prescriptive content that API developers and providers alike will need to fully leverage the API revolution. As I write this column, ProgrammableWeb’s editor Wendell Santos (now in his fourth year with PW) and I are planning the next steps in what we believe will be a long and fruitful journey for the ProgrammableWeb community. For those of you wondering what will become of ProgrammableWeb executive editor Adam Duvander and the site’s founder John Musser, fear not. Both Duvander and Musser will continue to write for ProgrammableWeb while also acting in a advisory capacity to me and Santos.
As we take ProgrammableWeb to the next level, we look forward to your ideas and feedback.
Finally, a word of thanks to John Musser for his support. There’s no other way to put it; ProgrammableWeb is his baby. Like a father marrying-off his daughter, I don’t think I could have accepted this role without his blessing. I’m thankful that he did, allowing me to come full circle to my roots as a developer and the community that forever changed my life.