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Music: Earth, Wind & Fire - Build Your Nest (1973)
This week we take a look at the history of protocol buffers as well as the rise of buf cli and Buf Technologies.
Just over two decades have passed since the creation of protocol buffers at Google.1 For context, within a modern software application stack, we can apply an emphasis on parts to examine more closely that benefit from the use of protocol buffers.
With protocol buffers (also referred to as protobuf), the goal is serializing structured Data for use in Apps for any programming language and with a path towards extensibility via schemas. So, if this sounds like something slightly more appealing than keeping track of JSON and versioning of a REpresentational State Transfer (REST) APIs, let’s keep going.
Buf Technologies has had submissions to Hacker News2 since as far back as 2019. However, I only noticed Buf Technologies years later in the deep web communities where software architects, developers, and k8s type folks would hang out or lament the challenges of change management with protocol buffers as well as gRPC in general.
Fast forwarding to today, buf cli is democratizing access to schema-driven development for a far wider audience of developers. Toolchains that include buf are ushering in a new assumption on developer productivity in areas where RESTful APIs are arguably declining and becoming an increasingly cumbersome process.
If you are wondering how protocol buffers fit into gRPC, you might recall prior gRPC discussion in Fudge Sunday. Also, the Buf Technologies story on connect and grpc-web is very interesting.
Do you have 25 minutes? Dimitri Mitropoulos of Buf Technologies gave a great presentation on protocol buffers and gRPC at JSWORLD.
There is much to unpack in this talk, but the things that matter are the things that are going to be increasingly accessible to wider developer communities. For example, a deep dive into GraphQL will be in a future issue of Fudge Sunday.
So why does Buf Technologies exist?
“Buf’s mission is to deprecate REST/JSON and move the industry towards a future of schema driven development with Protobuf.” Source: Lux Capital
The succinct quote above is found on a Buf Technologies investor website. While researching this issue of Fudge Sunday, I learned Buf Technologies had already taken an impressive amount of VC funding.
Fudge Sunday readers might recall Sourcegraph coverage last year. Looking back, it was interesting to learn that the VP of Engineering at Buf came from Sourcegraph.
So, what will be the next big thing in making protocol buffers, gRPC, and APIs easier and more accessible to a wider developer community?
Until then… Place your bets!
As a reminder, after a +25 year walkabout, I’m an IBMer (again). For 2023, in “Work Plug”, I’ll share a new link each week that is educational, accessible, and relevant to platform engineering from fellow IBMers3 in the wider IBM Community.
I am linking to my disclosure.