Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Following the launch of the AdSense Management API in October 2011, we visited our AdSense API Engineers in London to get to know them a bit better. Our guest today is Ben Birt, a Software Engineer who has worked on the AdSense API team since October 2010.
What’s your main contribution to API development?
I write a lot of the code! More seriously, my general concerns are on the reports side of the API, as well as general code design/maintenance.
Describe your average day at work.
An average day usually consists of the usual: reading/answering email, maybe attending a meeting or two, and then the more fun stuff: actually writing code. I usually end up working on two or three code-related tasks at a time, each of which might take me a week or so.
What do you like most about the AdSense Management API?
I’m really happy that for the first time ever, AdSense publishers have access to data that has traditionally been limited to the AdSense website. App developers have in the past been forced to screenscrape AdSense, but now have access to a much more robust method of data access that is safer for the end user (since they don’t have to give up their password), and easier to use for the developer.
I also really like that because we have built a standard Google API, we get a bunch of integrated tools for free: auto-generated client libraries for just about any language you can name, command-line access to the API (via GoogleCL), and more!
Tell us one best practice about the API.
Being intelligent about the requests you make will save you bandwidth and API quota. Inventory really doesn’t change all that often (especially ad clients), so it’s fine to cache some data for at least a little while.
You can also use ETags to help with this. However, don’t worry about requesting more quota - we fully expect any developer with a moderately successful app/website to need more fairly quickly.
Ok, now we want to know more about you outside work. Tell us one thing that you like about London.
I grew up in the middle of the countryside, so I love the sheer number of things to see, places to eat, and activities to do here. It’s also really easy to get around.
Let’s talk about hobbies. What book, movie and TV show would you recommend to our users?
I’m just going to end up sounding like a sci-fi geek, but here you are:
Book: If you’re into sci-fi, I strongly recommend pretty much anything by Iain M. Banks. I really love his writing style; especially anything set in the “Culture” universe.
Movie: Star Trek (as in the new one). I think it’s a great action-oriented reboot of the franchise with fast pace and excellent cast.
TV show: I really love QI. You might not have heard of it if you’re not British.
It’s a quiz show hosted by Stephen Fry who is one of the funniest and most interesting people on Earth, but it’s not really anything like any other quiz show - the contestants are usually all comedians so every episode is hilarious.
Mmm, now we want to know how much of a geek you are. Top Games of 2011?
These are in no particular order:
The Witcher 2: The makers of this game managed to improve on what was already a near-perfect game in the original Witcher. The game has a really well-thought-out plot - nearly every single task/quest is linked to the main story in some way; it could almost be read like a book. The game also looks gorgeous.
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: The game looks amazing, particularly when you’re outside, halfway up a mountain and can see across half of Skyrim! I love the sheer number of things you can do in this world: it’s not all connected up in a (near) single narrative like The Witcher 2; instead you get a massive open world where you can literally do whatever you want.
Thanks Ben, please go back to code our favorite API!
Sorry, I just got Skyrim delivered - I’ll be working from home. ;)
Edit: fixed typo.