👾 The Queue #28

It's Stripe's world, we're all just living in it, API design, and the importance of engineers as a value-driver

This is my first issue of The Queue in … an embarrassingly long time. Bandwidth has been at an all-time low, but I'm trying to get back into the groove of sending these out on a monthly-ish basis!

Short reads ⚡️

Fivetran and Databricks are both amazing companies and get a lot of well-deserved attention. This post on the Fivetran blog in praise of Databricks is short but has a compelling premise: much of the language around data lakes, data warehouses, or the even more abstruse permutation, data lakehouses, is product nomenclature that is really just describing what an RDBMS has done for decades. It’s just now at a cloud-native level of abstraction. Fivetran Blog

Silicon Valley is a special place and, as far as I’m concerned, always will be. I live in the midwest and think it’s a special place too, but there is often big disconnect with the way engineers are treated and valued. This post does a nice job of exploring the difference between ‘old-school’ and ‘SV-style’ companies and how they treat their eng department. Gergely Orosz

We all get to read about and live through consumer experience the of the ‘API economy,’ but when you start peeling back the layers of how APIs are designed and built, there is an amazing lack of standardization and consistency. Buf (an Abstraction portfolio company) calls out the state of the world and is building a better way to produce API schemas. Buf Blog

Containerized infrastructure has been changing the world of development and operations over the past decade, but as with almost every facet of infrastructure, it’s not the only way of doing things. I am super bullish on webassembly and what it’s going to enable over the coming years. In this piece, my friend Renee at Amplify Partners discusses some of the reasons it’s so exciting. Renee Shah

Long read 💳

If you filled a conference room with a random sampling of developers from across the globe and asked them which company [they most admire, has the best API, has the best documentation, has the best marketing], I’d wager a good dinner out that Stripe is going to be the consistent winner. They nail it. And by ‘it,’ I mean virtually everything.

In this long interview, Ken Norton interviews Michael Siliski from Stripe about how Stripe does things and what stands out as unique. There is gold in here - particularly the discussion about building abstractions so durable that they last for 30 years and this beautiful section about design:

If they’re talking about an API, have they really deeply considered it? Are they passionate about the details? Those people who do so end up spiking high on taste. It’s craftsmanship and a huge amount of dedication to getting all of the details right. Much like a designer who’s putting all the pixels on the screen and getting the colors exactly right. That same degree of care applied to API development.

I often talk about the fact that with developer-facing products, design is absolutely paramount, it just doesn’t mean the color your app’s navbar. Certain products engender an incredible amount of love and devotion amongst engineers, and some of these products have a user interface that looks baffling and antiquated to a non-engineer.

Graphic I love 🎨

OpenView always crushes it with their content of developer-facing stuff. Their recent Developer Focused GTM Playbook is no exception. I *love* this page because it perfectly captures a convergence of trends that underlies why infrastructure and developer-facing tech is so hot 🔥 right now.

Wikipedia rabbit hole 📖

Surprisingly Popular. That is, a variation on the mismatch between mass perception and reality. This will make you think of Family Feud.

Parting thought 🤔

After being vaccinated, the experience of eating with friends at a restaurant was nothing short of magical. I’m grateful that it is a possibility again and I’m hoping that 2021 is a little kinder to all of us than its predecessor.