Eat Your Own Dog Food

Eat Your Own Dog Food: Use the same APIs in your internally built and supported products that you sell to your customers.

This isn’t complex or even debatable. It’s just something all companies should do.


We all at one point in time, as technical people, start thinking of cool new stuff. We all consider building fiefdoms around new cool things so that we and only we can access it…

It’s a evil voice with a self fulfilling prophecy where we lose.

An API is supposed to unlock potential the internal team building it isn’t thinking of or doesn’t have time to build. It’s also supposed to absorb the hard stuff so people building on top of the API (whomever’s API that may be) never have to think about it.

An API done correctly absorbs headaches so others don’t have to solve the same problems a second time.

Putting weird limits in place is the friction that kills dreams.

As companies, who build what we believe in, we should be building technology that removes barriers to innovation and we should be using the same technology we’re selling to our customers.

When you eat your own dog food you ensure that your internal success is built on the same systems that external developer success is built on.

That’s smart.

In the end. The best product wins. If you’re supplying the API and the underlying network that connects the dots why does it matter whose app they are using?

It does not matter.

I’m very happy that Dwolla’s updated mobile applications are built on the API documented in our developer section. Those new applications are using the same APIs everyone else is using.

The usage of those APIs has jumped since the release of the mobile apps and that quickly changes how often those endpoints come up in discussion.

Even in the past week. Performance has gotten better. Round trip transaction time in the last week was reduced to ~500ms.

This shift and many like it at our company are driving continued positive results.

  • In a short period of time better monitoring is available.
  • In a short period of time there is more transparency.
  • In a short period of time all developers building on the Dwolla network benefit.

When you don’t eat your own dog food it’s a bit like speaking a different language internally than you speak to your customers.

Have you ever worked in an English speaking company trying to sell solely into the Japanese market without a single person who speaks Japanese on staff? Would that make any sense?

Oddly enough, software companies do that all the time. They put out public APIs that the company doesn’t use. As a result, developers using the published APIs get a subpar experience and that sucks.

At Dwolla, I’m happy to report that we’re eating our own dog food.