APIs are the foundation upon which the digital economy is built, and these powerful tools should be treated with the respect they deserve. It seems that MailChimp is realizing this as they look to start “treating our API as a first-class feature of our application,” according to a recent blog post by senior software engineer Pete Holiday.
In mid-2013, the company released v2.0 of their API, adoption of which was slow, with existing users finding little reason to upgrade from v1.3. After analyzing data from a user survey, the company found that many of the issues developers were experiencing were so old that fixing them would break backward-compatibility.
“If you ever find yourself saying, ‘We really need some unit tests around those comments,’ well, you probably made a wrong turn somewhere,” said Holiday in the post. So the company has decided to address the larger issue of problems at a structural level, rather than patch the symptoms as they arise.
This change in attitude is in line with the idea put forward by Andrew Seward, technical product manager at global SMS service Esendex: “Companies should view their APIs as products, and not just a mysterious ‘thing’ that does some complicated stuff in the background.”
Over the next few weeks the email marketing giant will be unveiling its ideas for what it plans to do with the API. For a company that serves 50 million API requests every day, this will be no small task, but it is an important one to ensure MailChimp remains relevant.