From API design best practices to Richard Hamming’s life lessons: all in one webcast!

2 minute read

The webcast was live on 11-20-2018.


Late last month, I watched webcast entitled API Design Best Practices & Common Pitfalls given by Martin Nally, Senior Software Engineer at Apigee | Google Cloud.

Note that Apigee is Google’s new API management platform, but the talk was more general. The gist of the talk, if I understood correctly, is that APIs — at least some of them — are the means to tackle two main software problems: software change and software integration.

The webcast actually distills these three blog posts referenced by Nally at the end:

These are great references about API design AND they are very well written! I am sure I’ll revisit them at some point, along with this excellent other one, but the point of this post is that sometimes, one’s curiosity can be rewarded beyond one’s expectations.

Here is what I mean:

It took Nally only 3 minutes (at slide 6, 3.06 m in) to reach the topic of “Important Problems” and to quote from a Richard Hamming’s lecture entitled “You and Your Research”:

“Great scientists have thought through a number of important problems in their fields, and they keep an eye on how to attack them.”

Also at the end, again referencing Hamming’s lecture, Nally signs off with this humble quip:

“If you got nothing else out of this talk maybe you got a reference to a better talk[!]”

Now, that really picked my curiosity and I went ahead and watched the Hamming lecture. The advices that Hamming gives about how to keep your professional life meaningful, in addition to his telling of colorful anecdotes, make this lecture a must see/read.

I wish I had known about it when I first entered college!

So, my hat to you, Martin Nally: thanks for the better other talk reference!


The “better talk”, a grainy video lecture from June 6, 1995, can be found here. As per the publisher’s notes on that page, the lecture was part of a course:

“The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn” was the capstone course by Dr. Richard W. Hamming (1915-1998) for graduate students at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey California.”

A a transcript from a similar lecture from 1986 is here.

There is another lecture by Hamming “Mathematics” (May 18, 1995):

“Mathematics is the language of clear thinking.”

That was a rabbit hole full of carrots, methinks!