API Management / Technology

Mashape’s Gelato Acquisition Will Make Tastier APIs

26 Oct 2015 11:18am, by

What makes the new stack feasible in the first place is the decoupling of functions that were once tightly locked. It’s the move from monolithic applications into interoperable services. The API (Application Programming Interface) is the bridge among these services, and as we’ve covered here, Mashape is one firm in the business of helping organizations expose their key business functions using APIs.

Thursday, Mashape announced it is acquiring a group called Gelato (literally known to some of its customers as “Nik and Adam”), whose business has been to develop Web-based front-end portals for organizations to make their own APIs exploitable by others. The two companies working together opens up the possibility that Mashape’s Kong API gateway for microservices may soon be connected with front-end portals that offer guidance, documentation and support, in addition to development tools.

Screenshot of Gelato API Markdown Editor

Screenshot of Gelato API Markdown Editor

“With over 200,000 Kong Docker and 5,000 Kong instances running, one of the biggest community requests has been integration with a developer portal,” the Mashape message to customers read. “This will let Kong users handle key management, developer on-boarding and document imports. We think Gelato is the best tool for your team with native Swagger/API-blueprint support, auto-generated code samples, an API explorer, beautifully designed docs and seamless on-boarding features. In addition, a Galileo integration for API analytics is coming soon, so you can see and monitor the usage of your developers.”

All that Mashape Analytics (recently re-dubbed Galileo) really lacked was… well, an easy-to-deploy website that let developers browse the individual functions, test them out and incorporate them into their own projects.

This last acknowledgment could be the biggest news of all. Last June, Mashape began integrating into its API gateway an analytics service that enables API publishers to track how their services are being used, by whom and in what contexts. All that Mashape Analytics (recently re-dubbed Galileo) really lacked was… well, an easy-to-deploy website that let developers browse the individual functions, test them out and incorporate them into their own projects.

Now that Galileo and Gelato are, shall we say, gelling, developers may become encouraged to build best practices into their API functions, and then share those practices directly, in blog form, with their customers through their API portals.

“In the early days, the more API calls you made, the cooler you were,” explained Mashape’s CEO Augusto Marietti in a recent interview with The New Stack. “A lot of solutions were trying to push for more volume, so they could charge you more. Then after people get experienced with this, they know it doesn’t work. What we actually should do is decrease the number of requests so our products and applications are more performant.”

Netflix took the early lead in reducing API transaction count, Marietti explained, in order to make its microservices more efficient. Teaching other developers how to incorporate such efficiencies into their own code may end up reducing the volume of function usage — and in turn, Marietti noted, could end up diminishing revenue for publishers in the short term.

It’s the long term that counts, he explained. And by applying proper analytics to the problem of when and where connections should be made, developers can be compelled to produce more efficient microservices.

“By decoupling more and more of the software and more of the microservices,” he noted, “more connections are happening because of that… yes, it’s true that you have to make less transactions; but it’s also true that you have to decouple more and more, which has a counter-effect,” Marietti said.

The Two Layers of Microservices

Marietti believes there are two layers of functionality related to microservices: the infrastructure and the code. “They are two very different things,” he explained. “Docker and CoreOS are all very great solutions, at the base of the infrastructure, at the operating system and server levels. But there is this other half: the code part, which is left a little bit behind. Kong is one of the first platforms that solved the code part by unifying all of Kong’s logic in a single place, but there is still a lot to do on the code side for microservices.”

For Galileo to visualize the relationships between microservices, the CEO told us, it needs to co-exist where the code is deployed, rather than on some separate server. This is where Gelato co-exists as well. If APIs are described in JSON using Swagger, then Gelato can build documentation pages for those functions automatically.

From there, however, the fun part begins: Gelato acts as a kind of content management system, letting you edit those pages in-place using a common markdown language. All the navigation between pages is already structured, so all you need to add is the common language that gives it sensibility and legibility.

As promised, Mashape dropped Gelato’s basic subscription price from $25 to $19 per portal, per month.

Docker and Red Hat are sponsors of The New Stack.

Feature image: Pixabay, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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