Elementary Arithmetic of Modern Development


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Five plus TwoI know some developers love advanced mathematics. My computer science degree came with a math minor, but quite honestly I haven’t thought about any of it in awhile. I’m more of an elementary arithmetic kind of guy. If you like complex formulas, Nick has you covered with his A/B testing explained post. For this one, I’ll stick to the basics. In fact, I promise only three numbers in this post: 5, 2 and 80.

The 5 stands for the number of APIs that SendGrid provides and the 2 is for our great webhooks. If you add those together, you’ll have seven services for simplifying email. The 80? The mathematical sticklers will prefer it to actually be 0.8. It represents the 80% of your app that is already done when you piece together services like ours, the building blocks of modern development.

5 Email APIs

  • SMTP API provides email header magic with substitutions, categories and tracking.
  • Web API has the same features in an HTTP interface. And there are client libraries for eight programming languages.
  • Marketing Email Service is a user-facing tool that also has a full-featured API.
  • Subuser API allows customers (silver and above) to programmatically create and administer accounts for sub-accounts or even to separate the types of email you send.
  • Reseller API is similar to the subuser API, but is available to approved partners. Check out the documentation and email partners@sendgrid.com if you’re interested

2 Email Webhooks

  • Event Webhook fires each time that one of nine different events happens (batched data recommended). Download the free Event Webhook Guide.
  • Parse Webhook allows customers to accept incoming email within their applications. Some very cool use cases are covered in the Parse Webhook Guide.

80% of Your App is Done

The above two numbers are about the services that SendGrid provides. As much as I like our features, what’s most exciting is how we fit into the way modern applications are built. We ensure that our customers don’t have to run email servers, scale to billions of emails, and handle the details associated with sending to that many recipients. Similarly, there are many other companies providing services that focus on other very specific problems. Before developers even start building their applications, they’re already 80% done because of all the services available.

Pareto principle for app development

I call this phenomenon Pareto-as-a-service, named after the Pareto principle, sometimes called “the 80/20 rule.” Since the bulk of your application is complete before you start, you spend the bulk of your time—say, 80% or so—on that 20% at the top of the pyramid. Focus on the stuff that makes you special.

This post is an excerpt from SendGrid Delivered, our road show that may be coming to your city. Reserve your seat now.


Adam DuVander speaks fluent "developer" while serving as Developer Communications Director. He helps SendGrid connect to coders of all stripes. Previously Adam wrote for Wired, Webmonkey and edited ProgrammableWeb, the leading resource for APIs.

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