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gRPC API News

These are the news items I've curated in my monitoring of the API space that have some relevance to the gRPC API conversation and I wanted to include in my research. I'm using all of these links to better understand how the space is deploying their APIs, going beyond just REST, and understanding how we are evolving our toolbox to be more robust.

The gRPC Meetup Kit

I wrote about Tyk’s API surgery meetups last week, and adding a new approach to our API event and workshop toolbox, and next I wanted to highlight the gRPC Meetup Kit, a resource for creating your own gRPC event. gRPC is an approach out of Google for designing, delivering, and operating high performance APIs. If you look at the latest wave of APIs out of Google you’ll see they are all REST and/or gRPC. Most of them are dual speed, providing both REST and gRPC. gRPC is an open source initiative, but very much a Google led effort that we’ve seen picking up momentum in 2017.

While I am keeping an eye on gRPC itself, this particular story is about the concept of providing a Meetup kit for your API related service or tooling, providing an “In a Box” solution that anyone can use to hold a Meetup. The gRPC team provides three groups of resources:

gRPC 101 Presentation

  • Talk - A 15 minute course introduction video.
  • Slides - Slides that go along with the talk.
  • Codelab - A 45m codelab that attendees can complete using Cloud Shell.

Resources and community

Request Support for Your Event

It provides a nice blueprint for what is needed when crafting your own Meetup Kit as well as some material you could weave into any other type of Meetup, or workshop that might contain gRPC. Maybe an API design and protocol workshop, where you cover all of the existing approaches out there today like REST, Hypermedia, gRPC, GraphQL, and others. If nothing else the gRPC Meetup Kit provides a nice forkable project, that you could use as scaffolding for your own kit.

As I mentioned in my piece about Tyk, I don’t think Meetups are going anywhere as a tool for API providers, and API service providers to reach a developer audience. However, I think we are going to have to get more creative about how we organize, produce, and incentivize others to put them on. They are a great vehicle for brining together folks in a community to learn about technology, but we have to make sure they are delivering value for people who show up. I am guessing that a little planning, and evolving a toolkit using Github is a good way to approach putting on Meetups, workshops, and other small events around your products, services, and tooling.


API Design Industry Guide: gRPC, Open Source RPC Framework

This post is from the latest copy of my API Evangelist API Design Industry Guide, which provides a high level look at the API design layer of the industry. Providing a quick look at the services, tools, and some of the common building blocks of API design. The guide is heavily rooted in REST and hypermedia, but is working to track on the expansion of the space beyond just these formats. My industry guides change regularly, and I try to publish the articles from them here on the blog to increase their reach and exposure.

gRPC is a high-performance open source remote procedure call (RPC) framework that is often used to deploy APIs across data centers that also supporting load balancing, tracing, health checks and authentication. While gRPC excels in more controlled, tightly coupled environments, it is also applicable for delivering resources to web, mobile, and other Internet connected devices.

When crafting gRPC APIs, you begin by defining the service using Protocol Buffers, a language and toolset for binary serialization that has support across 10 leading programming languages. Protocol Buffers can be used to generate client and server stubs in these programming languages with tight API/client coupling — delivering a higher level of performance than your average REST API and SDK can.

gRPC API design patterns takes advantage of HTTP/2 advances and uses authenticated bi-directional streaming to deliver APIs that can be scaled to millions of RPC calls per second. Its an effective approach for larger, more demanding API platforms that have begun to see the performance limitations of a more RESTful API design approach. gRPC is not ideal for every API implementation, but is definitely an approach providers should consider when high volumes anticipated, especially within the data center or other tightly controlled environment.

Google has been using gRPC internally for over a decade now, but has recently committed to delivering all their public APIs using gRPC in addition to RESTful APIs, demonstrating that the API design patterns can coexist. This approach makes it a welcome addition to any microservice style architecture. It has the added benefit of API management features like authentication, tracing, load balancing, and health checking that are required to deliver high performance.

gRPC is definitely more of an industrial grade API design pattern, shifting APIs into the next gear when it comes to performance. It also leverages the next generation of the HTTP protocol, HTTP/2. While not an API design pattern that every API provider will be working with, they should be aware it exists so that they understand what it is and the role it plays in the space.


If you think there is a link I should have listed here feel free to tweet it at me, or submit as a Github issue. Even though I do this full time, I'm still a one person show, and I miss quite a bit, and depend on my network to help me know what is going on.