SUMMARY: Phillip Crum and Keith Casey discuss Keith Caseys new book covers API development.

Episode #5 | Keith Casey Shares Some Insights On His New Book About API Design

Keith Casey-Owner, Casey Software
Phillip Crum-The Content Marketing Coach


PHILLIP CRUM: Welcome back. This is Phillip Crum, with Content Marketing Coach, and Keith Casey, fresh back from his European vacation. How are you this morning, Keith?

KEITH CASEY: I’m fantastic. How are you?

PHILLIP CRUM: Pretty darn good. Rumor has that that, in addition to being a world traveler, you are also authoring a book at the moment.

KEITH CASEY: I have partnered with a good friend of mine here in Austin, Texas, James Higginbotham, and we’re writing on API design.

PHILLIP CRUM: Interesting. Does it have a title yet?

KEITH CASEY: Yes. It’s The Pragmatic Approach to API Design.

PHILLIP CRUM: I know you well enough at this point when I ask you, what do you need help writing a book for? How did that come about?

KEITH CASEY: When I left my last company about three months ago now, I was doing a lot of API work for a lot of different customers, helping them to figure out a lot of the nuances that go along with designing the API, and I realized that the vast majority of them were running into the same handful of problems, ranging from things like they’re not entirely sure why they need an API but they’re thoroughly convinced that they did, to technical issues. So I decided to sit down and sketch out an outline and try and put some the theories and practices onto paper to share that with them.

PHILLIP CRUM: So is it essentially a beginner’s book for API development?

KEITH CASEY: Chapters one through four are, yes. So chapters one through four are focused on “Here is what an API is, here is why you’d need one, here’s how to get started.”

PHILLIP CRUM: And the book assumes or presumes some programming knowledge behind everything?

KEITH CASEY: Chapters five through eight will. So chapters one through four are more targeted at the CIO/CTO level who has been hearing these terms before out in the wild, and they’ve been told that they need to do these things, but they’re not entirely convinced why yet.

PHILLIP CRUM: Chapters one through four are about convincing them of the usefulness of an API, what they are and why they would need it, and from there on is the practical application and how to.

KEITH CASEY: Yes, absolutely.

PHILLIP CRUM: Tell me about your author and how he came about to partner up with you about the book.

KEITH CASEY: It’s actually kind of funny. I sat down and I said that this book is necessary. So I wrote out an outline and I was talking to a friend and I told him about the book, and he said, “Oh, you should talk to James.” James and I met for coffee and we’re talking and I said, “You know, I’m writing a book on this, and we laughed and he said, ‘I’m writing a book on this!’” And we stopped and look at each other. We realized that they’re different sides of the same coin, so we immediately opened up our laptops, opened up the outline, traded computers and sat there reading each other’s work, and within five minutes, we said we should merge these and just write one book.

PHILLIP CRUM: So which side was he bringing to the table, as opposed to your side?

KEITH CASEY: He was talking primarily about the implementation side, of taking it from “Here’s a design on a sheet of paper on a white board” to actually putting it into practice.

PHILLIP CRUM: So he’s chapters five through eight, so to speak.

KEITH CASEY: I think he’s worked out the chapters. We’re basically alternating chapters, so I’m one and three, and he’s two and four right now, and we’ll figure out five through eight once we get that outline finalized in the next couple weeks here.

PHILLIP CRUM: Was your original focus more on the chapter one through four point you mentioned earlier?

KEITH CASEY: Originally, I wrote chapter one, which was “Here’s what an API is and here is why you might need one.” And then I was going to dive into, “Here’s what it looks like to build one,” and he said, “Whoa! We’re missing a couple pieces here” and filled in the rest of the gaps.

PHILLIP CRUM: When is this scheduled for publication release? When can I get a copy?

KEITH CASEY: Chapters one through four we’re hoping will be ready this week.

PHILLIP CRUM: That doesn’t mean I can get chapters one through four, does it?

KEITH CASEY: We’re actually using a system called to do the publication of it. It will generate an epub on demand so we can go ahead and have chapters one through four published and just literally in minutes from now. If I wanted to publish it right now, I could.

PHILLIP CRUM: Chapters five through finished are scheduled to be done when?

KEITH CASEY: We’re looking at five through eight through to land sometime right around South by Southwest in early March. We don’t have a firm date yet.

PHILLIP CRUM: Is the book going to be distributed electronically only, or will it be available in good old ink on paper, or haven’t decided that yet?

KEITH CASEY: We’re primarily focusing on electronically for now. We’re not averse to ink on paper; it’s just that our target audience is generally e-book style-readers. So we’re going to start there and see if there’s a demand for print.

PHILLIP CRUM: Is this your first book or have you done something before?

KEITH CASEY: I’ve done something before, but this is the first one that’s actually going to make it published. The last one I wrote was all about a SugarCRM. It’s a customer relationship management system, and that turned into a bunch of SugarCRM training documents and things like that. So it never actually saw publication.

PHILLIP CRUM: I’m actually interested in that sort of thing. Does it still exist?

KEITH CASEY: The training documents still exist, yes. Maybe dissected into that.

PHILLIP CRUM: That is interesting. Will there be an accompanying website for future updates and that sort of thing, or does epub or accomplish that also?

KEITH CASEY: LeanPub handles all that for us. When we say there’s an update to the book, we just trigger a little button that notifies the readers that there’s an update and they should go grab it.

PHILLIP CRUM: So you are, I assume, targeting the completion of this book in time for South by Southwest so that you can talk it up.

KEITH CASEY: Chapters five through eight, yes. We’re through sketching out what chapters nine through 12 will look like, and we’re estimating that will probably be April sometime, but with LeanPub, you can publish what you have and then as new stuff becomes available, it’ll just download it for you.

PHILLIP CRUM: It’s good to be alive in the 21st century, is it not?

KEITH CASEY: There are so many fantastic tools that make it so much easier to run all this stuff. It’s fantastic.

PHILLIP CRUM: For those who might be interested, tell me a little bit your writing habits. When do you typically find the time — and I know what your schedule looks like – when do you find time to work on something like this?

KEITH CASEY: Generally, I set aside time by getting out of the house. I’m not a fantastic writer when I’m standing at my desk, so I generally camp out in a coffee shop and I outline my stuff quite a bit, like detailed notes. I’ve got individual thesis statements made out. I’ve got individual transition statements laid out, and I flesh it out from there.

PHILLIP CRUM: Sounds like a good way to do it. A left-brain sort of way to go about writing a book.


PHILLIP CRUM: Which is the way to do it. Any other thoughts about the book that you’d like to mention for those who eagerly await.

KEITH CASEY: It’s been a blast so far and working with James has been fantastic. He’s a solid writer and he’s critical on the right things and it’s been a great experience so far.

PHILLIP CRUM: I should ask you, what you can tell me about James’s other writing adventures. Has he done anything else?

KEITH CASEY: He’s done a number of white papers, but I don’t believe he’s done other books. James Higginbotham is a developer here in Austin. He’s CTO for a local company and his primary focus for the last few years has been API design, architecture, and implementation.

PHILLIP CRUM: Interesting. Have you set up a site yet? If somebody wants more information right now about the book, is there an online place where they can go? LeanPub, possibly, or anywhere else that you’ve set up where they can find out more about this, or am I premature in that query?

KEITH CASEY: We’ve got all that launched. There is a Twitter account called @apidesignbook and you can go there and you can find out everything that’s going on along with ongoing status, like where we are in the book and what’s going on with that, and then we also have a link of and that will lead you to the actual landing page where you can sign up for more information.

PHILLIP CRUM: And if somebody wants to know a little bit more about Keith Casey just in general, where can they find you?

KEITH CASEY: If you find Casey Software – that’s C-A-S-E-Y software dot com – that’s my main website, and if you look up that user name just about anywhere, you can find me on Twitter, or on IM, and Skype and all those different sorts of things.

PHILLIP CRUM: Any parting thoughts on the book project?

KEITH CASEY: No. Just that it’s been a blast so far and I’m looking forward to getting this sucker done.

PHILLIP CRUM: One can only swill so much coffee, huh?

KEITH CASEY: Absolutely.

PHILLIP CRUM: That just about wraps it up for this time, then. Until next time, this is your humble correspondent, Phillip Crum with Content Marketing Coach, and Keith Casey of Casey Software, also author of various articles and a soon-to-be-released book. Thank you very much for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

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