Keep it Simple: A Letter to Myself as a Young Dumbass

The Three Fates, Giorgio Ghisi; engraver; 1558-1559; Mantua, part of the collection at Te Papa Museum of New Zealand

If you are a start-up that needs to build server-side applications: you do not need microservices, you do not need kubernetes, and you certainly do not need service mesh and it’s assorted bullshit.

There’s a common fallacy amongst engineers (even some more seasoned ones), that whatever Netflix, Google, Meta or Amazon are doing is “best practice”, and that may be the case – if you are one of the aforementioned companies.

As a start-up, you may have ambitions to become that size one day, but for now – you’re not, you’re trying to make a buck and stay alive.

Readers of this blog might be like “but Martin you run an Open Source API Management company, how can you shit on microservices?” Because I see customers come through the door that make their lives infinitely more difficult by doing things “the best way” instead of just getting shit done.

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How to set goals in a start-up? Guidestones and stories.

Scene from the Iliad – The Fight Over Patroklos, Black-figure wine-drinking bowl in the style of Exekias, c. 530 bc, from Pharsalos, Greece.

OK, chewy one incoming…

This is a big topic, because it’s all about context. This question came in from my YouTube Video on the importance of shipping product, asking: “how do start-ups define the right goals?”

In my humble opinion, this question asks about a framework for identifying goals – since the context at the time of goal setting is so important.

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JFSI – Just F***ing Ship It

The Return of Hephaestus to Mount Olympus

Hello Interwebs! This one’s going to be salty. I have worked with *many* product folks and I’ve met my fair share of fledgling entrepreneurs – from the “Would you like to develop my app” idea folks, to ones with serious execution chops. And I gotta say… it’s getting a bit much don’t you think?

When we were starting Tyk – our open source API Gateway – startup accelerators, entrepreneurship courses, and the wide unbundling of “making shit” weren’t really a thing. There was Y-Combinator, and maybe a handful of others in Europe like Seedcamp. That’s it.

Since then, “doing a startup” has turned into a multi-tiered, million-dollar industry of influencers, coaches, boot-camps, and courses that capture young talent, and propose to provide advice and “the right way to do things”. Don’t get me wrong, if you can get good advice when you start your project, it’s absolutely essential. However, just like being a writer, no amount of prep will really get you ready for a startup until you actually start one.

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What ever happened to mashups?

Ok, so I think I identify as an elder millennial – not only because of my rather sparkly salt & pepper beard and rather well-placed b*tch strip, but because I do fall on the early end of the generational group and yes, I’ve reached that ripe old round figure of 40.

When I entered into my “digital” career, the term “hackathon” had just been mainstreamed, Twitter had just raised their series… something, and everyone was on the hype train about REST vs. SOAP in API land.

In this age of yore, the term “Mashup” was thrown around everywhere, the programmable web was suddenly a thing, and all of my co-workers and palls were grabbing APIs left and right and mashing them into bizarre concoctions. I clearly remember at one point working on a paid-for-project where we needed to “mash up” the newly-minted Google Maps API with a map of toilets in the general London Area, and then figure out a way to measure the strength of an elderly persons urine stream in order to help create awareness for prostate cancer… yeah, those were some weird times.

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WASM could just be magic

WebAssembly (WASM), is a bytecode format that originally derived from asm.js (a subset of JavaScript that is extremely strictly typed with a very small subset of instructions). The point? It’s fast, near-native fast because it can do away with the overhead of a massive JavaScript interpreter to run the code.

Because WASM is so small, it can be made the target for compilation from a variety of other languages (most notably, Rust, Go, AssemblyScript, C and C++). Much like other byte code-interpreted languages like Java or .Net, just this time in the browser (and server-side).

That’s caused some pretty cool proof-of-concepts where folks have ported Quake and other software straight into the browser through compiling the C-source code into WASM.

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