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Behance exec shares “dog food” recipe to API enthusiasts

Eating your own dog food,” is a term that means demonstrating confidence in a product by using the product one’s self, often credited to the late 1980s culture at Microsoft.

But online portfolio startup, Behance—self-described as the LinkedIn of the creative world—has embraced the “dog food”philosophy in its API strategy. At today’s Business of APIs Conference in New York, Behance’s home city, chief of software architecture Bryan Latten shared the four ingredients of the company’s secret dog food sauce:

  1. Model your own workflow: The idea behind eating your own dog food is that you should create an API that your own company would want to use. Which means, step one, according to Latten, is to know your corporate workflow.
  2. Repurpose your data, make it different: Once executives identify possible ways the data might be broken up they should take a moment to look at it with fresh eyes. Try to view the data from different perspectives and figure out new ways to interpret what it means.
  3. Use non-developers for feedback: Latten said there’s nothing like hearing a chief executive with little or no understanding of the technology behind an API react to new proposals. But that’s just one example. Ask your loved ones (if they’re not already tired of your entrepreneurial rantings), your customers, and anyone willing to listen, and give thoughtful feedback.
  4. Perform practice maintenance. Seriously: We reached out to Latten after he spoke and asked him to break this one down for us in different terms, and he asked us a question, “Will your clients now when you’ve made a change or will the new version be seamless?” He said those incorporating changes to an API should practice the transition on an offline database to make sure when the new version actually goes live there aren’t any glitches.

Behance was founded in 2006 and is a platform that makes it easier for creative professionals to reach their audience. They have a think tank and conference called 99U, formerly The 99 Percent, devoted to researching best practices of productive and creative people. Earlier this year, TechCrunch reported that Behance, which was at the time growing at a rate of 1,000 members per day, would cease work on a planned redesign and focus on its “creative graph,”charting the connections of freelancers and small business owners similarly to Facebook’s social graph.

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Posted on December 16th, 2012