Infrastructure as Code (IaC), Developer Experience (DevEx), and the emerging Infrastructure from Code (IfC) are key buzzwords in today’s software development landscape. The question that keeps me excited is: how can we fuse IaC, IfC with DevEx to make the whole experience effortless, intuitive, unobtrusive, simply seamless? An insightful article that highlights the Nitric framework’s IfC approach on improving DevEx, prompted me to reflect on similar challenges I’ve faced in automating API Gateway configuration using OpenAPI as the source of truth.
OpenAPI, the de facto standard for describing APIs, introduces its own set of challenges that can impede the development process. Take, for example, a RESTful API for a marketplace platform. Describing the API in OpenAPI not only requires the enumeration of endpoint and schema definitions but also involves crafting high-quality documentation — a task that developers often find cumbersome.
Software implementation may be thrilling, but documentation is the underappreciated counterpart that can’t be overlooked. Crafting OpenAPI specifications with detailed schemas, responses, and headers is taxing yet indispensable for an optimal DevEx. The hidden challenge here lies in the implicit expectation that developers should excel in both coding and technical writing, a feat that demands a high level of context-switching ability.
Traditional IaC tools often compel developers to divert their attention from application logic to manage infrastructure configurations, thereby affecting DevEx negatively. Contrastingly, Nitric’s IfC approach automates many of these complexities. Essentially, it allows developers to focus on coding, but if a developer struggles with documentation, this creates a DevEx bottleneck.
In reality, achieving exceptional DevEx requires rolling up one’s sleeves and tackling some ‘boring’ foundational work. Whether it’s detailing an API in OpenAPI or configuring resources in IaC or IfC, developers can’t escape some level of initial grunt work.
Generative AI holds incredible promise for infrastructure management, particularly in automating OpenAPI specifications. Much like Nitric’s approach, generative AI could analyse codebases to automatically generate comprehensive OpenAPI specifications, serving as a bridge between application development and API management and thus enhancing DevEx.
For operations teams, tapping into generative AI could help cut down on the manual effort required to configure systems, making life easier for developers by avoiding disruptions to existing workflows. Just like Nitric’s IfC approach goes hand in hand with existing IaC solutions, generative AI could generate API specifications on the fly if the API context is well-understood. If it isn’t, that’s probably a sign something’s off.
While streamlined approaches like IfC serve as a beacon for simplification, we must acknowledge that achieving unparalleled DevEx demands significant upfront work from developers. However, this shouldn’t be viewed as a hindrance but rather as a crucial investment in a robust and efficient end product.
Are we ready to embrace these ‘tedious’ yet foundational tasks for the sake of balanced and sustainable platform engineering? I’d love to hear your stories and insights – reach out and let’s share our experiences!