Stoplight Case Study

PagerDuty Delivers Consistency and Better Developer Experience with Stoplight Tools

How Stoplight helps PagerDuty meet consumer needs with API tools for linting, governance, documentation, and design.

In order to help more customers respond to issues, PagerDuty knew it must improve its own development processes. With Stoplight tools as a guide, they saw several improvements:

Faster time to market for new features
Balance an existing stack with rapid iteration
Collaborate with more variety of internal and external voices
Ability to collaborate with more non-technical users

The company aims to be the central nervous system of IT Ops and DevOps. An ambitious goal and demanding customers mean PagerDuty must deliver on high expectations with consistency, innovation, and reliability.

Treating APIs as a product means focus on performance

The Shared Services and Platform team at PagerDuty is tasked with improving the developer experience for both internal and external teams. For PagerDuty, the main metric is simple: How easy is it for developers to get their jobs done?

In practice, the Shared Services team has made a big investment in getting customer feedback on their APIs. Even when they are working to improve their internal developer productivity – “building better products faster and more consistently” – they are guided by a focus on delivering the best, most consistent experience to external developers.

PagerDuty wants external developers to be able to adopt new APIs and scale up quickly and painlessly. To meet that goal, they iterate constantly based on customer feedback. They also work to create a “guided experience” with consistent implementation and predictable tooling.

The teams at PagerDuty know that well-designed, high-performance APIs don’t happen by accident, but are the result of conscious investment. Now, the Shared Services team is working to develop and implement more metrics to combine with their robust customer feedback process. The data they get goes right back into their API design and development process so that they can deliver an API product that meets and exceeds customers’ high expectations.

Stoplight helps PagerDuty close the tooling gap

Some tool troubles extended beyond programming languages, as well. The teams adopted the OpenAPI data format, and have found the open source tools built around OpenAPI to be high quality and well-maintained. But for design and governance, they needed more. That’s where Stoplight comes in.

PagerDuty makes use of several Stoplight tools, including Spectral for linting and governance, Elements for documentation, and Platform for design. They’ve found that the tools create a common thread across their design-feedback-iteration process, feeding that goal of consistent high quality and productivity. Stoplight lets PagerDuty maintain its lightweight Elixir stack and still meet the needs of demanding API consumers.

How PagerDuty makes API development a collaborative process

A broad range of users interact directly with PagerDuty every day. With the company’s commitment to seeking out customer feedback, front-line staff have an important role to play:

"Bringing non-technical people into the process was really important for us because as engineers, we don’t get a lot of direct face-to-face time with our customers to hear what their experience is of our API. The people that do are our professional services folks and our customer support folks. So we wanted to empower them to hear about a problem and just open a PR and fix it."

— Brett Willemsen, Senior Engineering Manager of Shared Services at PagerDuty

Stoplight is an essential tool in managing that process. Customer support staff aren’t deeply familiar with reading code or YAML files. OpenAPI documentation and Stoplight Studio provide an easy-to-understand interface for non-technical employees, so that the pipeline for customer feedback can be as direct as possible.

Much of the information PagerDuty collects through their documentation and customer feedback processes feeds into something they call their “Captain’s Log.” With broader participation across the company, there are many more contributions to the Captain’s Log. Now it is filled with both technical and non-technical contributions, which makes it a better resource and gets the team answers faster.

Developers have less guess-work to do as they iterate to meet customer needs and customer-facing employees have a more efficient path to share their valuable insights. PagerDuty’s goal to improve internal productivity is serving internal and external stakeholders well.

The high volume of contributions has its own challenges, though. The Captain’s Log can be difficult to maintain, because of how many contributors and how many data points it has. Governance and linting are even more important, and PagerDuty has made good use of Spectral linting to help standardize all those contributions.

PagerDuty's focus on efficiency helps meet internal and external goals

So what’s next for PagerDuty? They’re on track to deliver a big feature enhancement in the near future:

"We’re focusing on a nice feature enhancement to our API that is something that has been a topic of discussion for a very long time. We’re also going to be improving our internal developer productivity at the same time. It’s a nice double win."

— Brett Willemsen, Senior Engineering Manager of Shared Services at PagerDuty

Meeting a high-demand feature request while also making the internal developer experience better is a great achievement. It’s the result of PagerDuty’s constant focus on their core values of productivity, consistency and reliability.

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PagerDuty logo

Industry: Information Technology

Location: San Francisco, CA

Employees: 800

PagerDuty is the industry-leading tool for managing incident response and on-call triage. High profile companies across many industries—healthcare, financial services, technology, and media—rely on PagerDuty for their incident response infrastructure.

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