The making of Postman’s new book: “The API-First Transformation”
While the graphic novel gives a quick, big-picture overview of the growing power of APIs everywhere around us, this latest read is a 260-page industry deep dive to help business leaders stay leaders amidst rapid change. It’s also meant to help more people learn the building blocks for constructing a successful future with APIs.
Written by Postman Chief Evangelist Kin Lane, The API-First Transformation shares the inside scoop firsthand from industry-leading companies that have shaped our technology and business landscape for the last 20 years—and who are now defining its contours for the next 20. By seeing APIs from multiple perspectives, leaders in every industry can now reap the unique benefits they have to offer.
The API-First Transformation is organized into three sections to help you:
- Create your API strategy
- Assemble the right technology for your purposes
- Put the solutions to work in your operations
Behind the scenes: from big idea to bound book
So how did this big book project begin in the first place? And what were some memorable writing moments and takeaways that might surprise you? Read the special Q&A with Kin below to learn about the making of this important Postman release.
How did the idea for The API-First Transformation first come about?
Kin Lane: Postman CEO Abhinav Asthana came to me with a request to write a complete guide about what I was seeing across the customer conversations I was having and across the Breaking Changes podcast interviews I was doing with industry leaders. From this, I wrote an initial draft, which I wasn’t happy with. Then I rewrote it and ended up with the current version, which is being used to guide our entire content strategy at Postman.
When and how did you actually write the book?
The content of the book was written over the course of January of 2022 through July of 2022. It is based on a subset of the content from 112 Breaking Changes conversations and 65 customer conversations, which were held from June of 2021 through June of 2022. Eventually, the rest will be available online in the form of Postman blog posts and white papers—so stay tuned.
You’re an established API storyteller but writing an entire book isn’t an easy or common task. What was your general writing process for this project?
I took the transcripts from all of my calls and then distilled down the most important topics from all of the conversations into an outline. I then took that outline and compared it with my research that I accumulated over 10 years on API Evangelist and prepared the 80 outlines that make up the core of the book.
I chose 30 of the best stories from conversations I had on Breaking Changes and used them as expert perspectives that I injected throughout the book. Then I wrapped it all in my personal narrative of what I am seeing across the API-first transformation that is occurring in almost every industry today.
The result was the right blend of facts gathered across top brands and narratives from practitioners of top brands—all wrapped in my view of things after working with APIs for so many years.
Biggest takeaways you hope people will get from the book?
I want people to see that APIs are much more than just technical projects. Business stakeholders will see a place for them in API discussions, and organizations will realize how important it is to have a shared meaning of the API lifecycle.
I want people to realize the importance of seeing APIs as products with valuable feedback loops from consumers. We need to put aside our technical dogma that has accumulated over the years and truly see the scope of the API-first transformation occurring across every industry.
I hope this book helps people understand just how important this moment in time is for how society works.
List of some memorable chats with industry leaders in the book?
- 7-Eleven had an interesting story about how they used APIs to help make sure we all had alcohol during the pandemic.
- The Boy Scouts of America being API-first was a pretty compelling story of doing more with less by using APIs.
- The Twilio story about APIs helping with GDPRA and CCPA was a pretty powerful message to business leadership.
- The Open Collective vision of what the future of open source is about was very compelling and emotionally moving.
- The NBA’s story about how APIs help meet the needs of all of their teams showed the business and creative power of APIs.
List of things in the book that may surprise readers?
- There is not any single right way of building and doing APIs.
- Only one-third of the work involved with APIs is technical.
- The next generation of APIs that will change how we do business will be led by business groups.
- API governance is more about enablement and feedback than enforcement.
- API regulation is already here in our top industries.
- APIs are key to dealing with security and privacy.
- APIs are what will define your successful digital transformation.
List of the most surprising things you learned while writing the book?
- How important the API consumer is when it comes to enterprise velocity.
- How important the right visuals are to the storytelling process.
- How much work it takes to make technology approachable to business people.
- How differently people see the API lifecycle as part of their work.
- How long this moment in time has been in the making—over 50 years.
- How critical APIs are to enterprise digital transformation.
What were the most challenging things you faced during this project?
Ultimately, making me happy. It was difficult deciding what shouldn’t be in the book, and I also wanted to find the right structure that would reach beyond the usual technical audience. Opening the book with a section on business strategy involving APIs took some time, too.
Lastly, anyone you’d like to thank?
I want to thank my entire Postman Open Technologies team for helping shape this book, and specifically Postman Lead Product Manager Strategist Deepa Goyal for the last-minute restructuring of the book to make it more accessible and business-friendly. I want to thank my CEO, Abhinav, for putting up with the fact that I completely rewrote it, and for pushing me to do it in the first place.
Finally, I want to thank my dog Poppy for coming in regularly with the tennis ball and forcing me to play.