API Problems Confessional – Episode 2

A friend of mine, staring at a nearly empty glass of beer last night, complained about his latest disastrous API work.

We have to build software off an API and the client provided a document with ‘all the necessary information’to use it. What they called documentation was a pile of random data, filled with overly specific examples that didn’t match the field descriptions. When we requested an updated version of the document, they sent the exact same document in a different file format.

I’m confident in my technical skills but this was a mess. At a call with their project manager I brought up the problems. He responded with, ‘We’re surprised your team is not able to use an API.’

It’s unfortunate that this sort of response isn’t rare. It denotes one of two things – either their project manager didn’t understand the API himself and was being defensive, or the PM doesn’t realize his lack of understanding. A sort of delusion. Not everyone is an expert and that’s expected and fine, but to not be able to admit that can only lead to bad things.

As for me, all I know is that I don’t know anything.
– Socrates

This is a quote that everyone in tech would be smart to know and subscribe to.