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Thor Mitchell
Works at Google
Lives in San Francisco, CA
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Thor Mitchell

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The scene on that light box is being created by the guy stood in front (with occasional help from kids nearby) using only packing tape.
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Great summary of my SXSW session on API Management by +Jessica Donlon.
Notes from  #sxsw2014  session, API Management: The Agony & the Ecstasy
Presented by Thor Mitchell, Product Manager, Google
#sxsw   #apiagony  

Session is an overview of API management in the day-to-day, project management. When deciding if you want to launch an API,  you need to realize the realities of daily management, dedicate a team to the API for its lifetime. Overall, it's not good to launch a bunch of bad APIs; we need to commit to quality APIs if they're going to work / build trust within the developer community.

Act I: The Launch

• Goals:
1. Attract best developers
- If you build it they will not necessarily come. You have to make sure developers are aware it exists and will evolve over time. 
- Ex. Google Maps - style maps wizard API; no one knows it really exists.
- Lesson: Developer marketing matters. 
- Ex. Google + login API. 

2. Inspire development of great apps. 
- Chicken / egg problem: need a great app to inspire developers, but that requires development. 
- Lesson: Launch partners are your friend. 
- Even Google allows 2 months for development, and frontload production. 
- Don't be afraid to be fussy re: utility, usability, branding, feature coverage, prominence. 

3. Discourage development of bad apps. 
- Obvi. Why? Wrapping / cloning (infrastructure), scrapping / capacity (data), and spam (users).
- Think about rights offered to developers, or terms, i.e. storing or caching, use out of context or offline, resyndication, aggregation and derivative works. forbidden use cases, use in commercial context, unsavory lines of biz, attribution and branding, and user privacy. 
- And future proof your terms, and make sure you're covering yourself for retroactive updates, precedence.
- Know your developers: requires a key. 
- Set reasonable limits (policy oriented and rate limits). 

• Launch
- Then do nothing. Be patient, and let it build.

ACT II: Nurture A Community

To do that, you have to build trust. How?

1. Be responsive. 
- On day 1, your'e the only one who can help, so help.
- Developer relations teams: evangelism, support, advocacy. 
- Reinforce positive behaviors. 

2. Be transparent. 
- Motives: why are you offering the API? what's your balanced value exchange? do developers understand this?
- Availability: downtime, ability to check availability (app engine),  common issues and continual maintenance.
- Roadmap: and developer influence.

3. Be reliable. 
- Small amount of downtime -> large loss in confidence. 
- Test rigorously. 
- Be conservative (in what you send / accept).
- Don't break changes.

• Handling Misuse
- Scraping
- The only winning move is not to play. 

ACT III: Retirement

• Biggest and most costly move you can make: how to retire an API.
• Why? 
- New version, can't sustain overhead of managing both, etc. 
• When?
- Deprecation --> announce date --> turndown.
- Google use to have a 3 year policy. Auto manufacturers, for example, have a 7 year policy because that's the average lifetime of the vehicle. Google now has a 1-year policy. 
• How?
- Explain why.  
- Offer alternatives (newer version? competitor?).
- Help developers respond. 
- Put it in writing (before hand, on launch). 
- "Hell hath no fury like a developer scorned."
- Be honest, be specific, and empathize that this may be the center of someone else's business. 
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Thor Mitchell

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FYI, if you're a user of the Google Maps API Styled Maps Wizard I've just updated it to allow direct editing of the hex "color" field, which has been a frequent feature request.
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Thanks Thor!
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Plane executed a bait and switch. Turns out Disneyland is not in San Jose.
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Thor Mitchell

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I feel this photo merits a caption competition. Have at it.
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Jose sure is taking a long time bringing down that bag of Salsa Verde.
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FYI, if you're in the Bay Area and can't make it to SXSW this year I'll be delivering a dry run of my presentation on API Management at the API Meetup in San Francisco on Wednesday evening.
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Fantastic presentation at SXSW!
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In his annual letter for 2014, Bill Gates tackles 3 common myths about extreme poverty. The first of these is that poor countries are doomed to stay poor, or to put it another way, that the health, education, and wealth of countries has not and will not improve over time.

A few years ago I was asked to build a Map for the Global Poverty Project illustrating poverty rates around the world. The data set I was given included historical rates back to 1950 for Infant Mortality and Life Expectancy, so I included an animated time slider for these metrics.

Although I don't believe the Map was ever used it is still available here:

It was written using the Google Maps API for Flash (sorry tablet users) which at the time was the only Google Maps developer offering that could restyle a large number of complex polygons quickly. The dataset is also quite large so apologies if it takes a while to load.

If you switch from the default "Extreme Poverty" data set to either "Infant Mortality" or "Life Expectancy" you can click Loop to run the animation. As you'll see, conditions have actually improved dramatically worldwide over the last 50 years. So, as Gates stresses in his letter, although there remains plenty of work to be done, the task of tackling extreme poverty is by no means a lost cause.
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OMG there's someone using a Surface!

Oh right, right, I'm in Seattle.
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One of my students has one. True story.
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Thor Mitchell

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This I've not seen before. Sky writing created by 5 planes flying in equidistant side by side formation with computer controlled smoke spelling out letters. Reminded me of old VT100 terminals...
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dot matrix in the sky!
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In his circles
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San Francisco, CA
Sydney, Australia - London, United Kingdom
Product Manager, Google+ API
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Our preferred hotel for the night before a flight. A miracle of audio engineering. Right next to the runway, and yet the rooms are silent.
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