About Harold Madsen

Harold Madsen is a director of engineering at Ancestry.com, the world's largest online family history resource with the mission to help everyone discover, preserve and share their family history. He has over 20 years’ experience in engineering and management. Harold manages the cross-cutting teams at Ancestry.com including DevOps, Framework and Performance. His most recent endeavor involves leading his teams to support Ancestry's move to Java, microservices and containerization. Harold enjoys hiking and camping in his free time and has hiked 10 mountain peaks and climbed one pyramid in Egypt. He is also distantly related to John Lackland, king of England of the Robin Hood legends.

Past Articles

The Ancestry “Magnetic Containment Field” meets Docker

Posted on August 19, 2015 in Agile, Development, DevOps, Distributed Computing

In the TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” the magnetic containment field prevents contact of antimatter with normal matter in a warp core. If the field were to collapse or fall below 15% of its maximum integrity, the starship would be destroyed. This containment field was a very important safety system for starships (reference Wikia).… Read more

External APIs: To Explode, or Not to Explode, That is the Question

Posted on September 29, 2014 in API, Mobile

Shakespeare might not approve of my taking liberties with his play Hamlet, though prince Hamlet was essentially saying the same thing as I was feeling last year: To be, or not to be, that is the question— Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune, Or to take… Read more

Featured Article: Want Great APIs? Start With Training

Posted on June 3, 2014 in API

Ancestry.com, has awesome software engineers, products, and APIs. However, programmers are not always trained as API designers and when it comes to API development, consistency matters. As companies build their API programs using multiple teams, APIs tend to develop their own personalities and become radically different from one another. That’s a problem. Fortunately, it doesn’t… Read more

APIs Are Like Parenting

Posted on March 3, 2014 in API

I’ve presented at several conferences recently and one of the analogies that resonated with the audience was that of comparing API Design to parenting.  So, here’s the analogy: APIs Are Like Parenting… The year was 1966. My family was living in Ethiopia while my dad taught at the American university as a guest professor. I… Read more

Ancestry.com Gets Hands-On With API Design at RootsTech Innovators Summit

Posted on February 3, 2014 in API, Technology Conferences

When it comes to API interface design, do your software engineers have a design touch or feel? Many engineers do not. Without training and proper aesthetic feel, your APIs might end up quite awkward or even a bit messy. Good API design is something that most engineers are not born with but with proper training,… Read more

Ancestry.com to present at API Strategy & Practice Conference

Posted on October 21, 2013 in API, Technology Conferences

Designing easy-to-use APIs is not always an easy thing to do.  In fact, some developers feel guilty taking time from coding for design – especially spending design time on such things as method names, request and response objects or service names.  If you don’t take the time upfront then you are destined to deal with… Read more