Unlocking the Full Potential of Your Internal Developer Portal: Beyond YAML
Explore why YAML falls short for internal developer portals and discover dynamic, accurate alternatives.
Internal developer portals serve as dynamic repositories of your organization’s sociotechnical knowledge. To unlock their full potential, it's imperative to employ the right integration methods, ensuring they stand a class apart from the static spreadsheets and wikis they are meant to replace. This article explores the limitations of YAML as a data store for internal developer portals and advocates for modern, dynamic approaches to maintain the freshness and accuracy of these essential tools.
YAML, a human-readable data serialization language, has traditionally been used for writing configuration files, and it played a significant role in the early days of microservice catalogs. However, YAML is not without its limitations, especially when applied as a broad-spectrum solution for data storage within developer portals.
Enterprise software ecosystems are constantly evolving, with frequent changes in team structures, systems, and dependencies. Relying on manual updates to YAML files introduces an inherent risk of inaccuracy, as there’s a delay between the actual changes in the system and the updates made to the YAML files. This delay, often referred to as ‘drift’, can negatively impact the developer experience, hindering the efficiency and reliability of the internal developer portal.
As an example, let’s take dependencies. A YAML-based approach would only be updated as often as a user remembers to change the YAML. Situations arise where dependencies can change without the knowledge of the YAML owner. This resultant drift harms the developer experience. Imagine an engineer who is on-call and wastes precious time during an incident researching a dependency that no longer exists.
While YAML has its place for storing static configuration data, such as the name of a service's repository or the location of the ticketing system a service uses, it falls short when it comes to dynamic, frequently changing information. Modern internal developer platforms, like configure8, have adopted live, dynamic data feeds, leveraging first-class plugins, discovery workers, and APIs to ensure real-time accuracy.
For instance, in configure8, while dependencies can be manually declared (similar to YAML), most enterprises prefer to integrate with observability tools that maintain real-time dependency maps or push updates via API as changes occur. This not only minimizes drift but also enhances the reliability and accuracy of the developer portal.
Modern internal developer portals also address tasks that YAML handles well, but with improved user experience and accuracy. In configure8, for instance, a service’s repository can be selected directly from the user interface, eliminating the risk of typos and ensuring precision. For large enterprises managing numerous services, this information can also be sent via API, negating the need for creating and maintaining extensive YAML files.
Modern internal developer portals represent a significant leap forward, striking the ideal balance between ease of use, accuracy, and automation. They empower organizations of all sizes to rapidly create and maintain precise and reliable internal developer portals, ensuring they remain invaluable assets in today’s ever-changing software landscapes. By moving beyond YAML and embracing dynamic integration methods, we set the stage for a developer experience that is as efficient as it is accurate.