Posted by on June 3, 2014 in API, 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 have to be that way. Companies can get consistency in their APIs through development standards as well as engineer training. If all developers adhere to one set of guidelines and standards, all your APIs will feel similar.

“What’s the benefit of that?” you might ask. “Why should I take the trouble to make similar APIs throughout the company? That’s a lot of work, time, and coordination.”

Great questions! The lessons learned from our efforts in creating clean, easy to use, and accessible APIs have been featured in the InformationWeek Strategic CIO section online. You can view our full story here.

About Harold Madsen

Harold Madsen is a director of engineering at, 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 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.

1 Comment

Jeff Epstein 

Hi, I appreciate your writing about APIs at Ancestry. I’d be interested to know if you can make some of these APIs available to users. I’d be interested in building scripts that interact with my family tree on Ancestry. For example, I’d like to be able to include index records from linked databases in the “Notes” section of the appropriate event, so that it won’t be lost when I download the Gedcom. Doing this by hand is obviously arduous for a tree of several thousand individuals and several tens of thousands of records, but it would be easy if Ancestry opened its FTM APIs to user-built scripts. I’d be interested in dialoging with you on this, feel free contact me with your thoughts.

November 23, 2015 at 10:14 am

We really do appreciate your feedback, and ask that you please be respectful to other commenters and authors. Any abusive comments may be moderated.

Commenting is open until Tuesday, 17 June 2014