Glenn Gillen

Why I invested in Stamplay

If you've seen me speak at an event any time in the past 5 years, there's a good chance I at least touched on the major shift that is underway on what it means to be a developer or to build an application.

Maybe it was how the emergence of NodeJS was enabling a whole new generation of application developers. Designers who'd taught themselves enough Javascript to demo live interactions to their clients, could now implement the "full-stack". And deliver a visually stunning and polished experience in the process.

Or maybe it was how the changing economics of open-source development was providing an opportunity for people to build more than libraries and frameworks. That in addition to sharing a solution to a problem via a repo there's entire businesses setup to provide those Solutions as a Service. People don't just want to avoid writing their own code from scratch, many would like to remove the on-going operational overhead too.

Perhaps it was tying the thread between these and other ideas together to talk about how application delivery is increasingly the act of assembling existing pieces together.

Building apps with Lego

The Lego metaphor isn't a particularly new one. We had a block as the logo for the Heroku Add-ons Marketplace since it's inception back in 2009. What has changed in that time is both the size of the market and the quality of the blocks within it. The marketplace launched with as few as 5 services. Most of them custom wrappers written and managed by Heroku, leveraging existing APIs. Within a few years that grew to the more than 150 that you see there today.

And that's just the tiny fraction of the total market that we felt was a good fit for the Heroku platform and its customers. Take a look at something with a broader mandate like the AWS marketplace and you can see that the market here is already huge.

The first problem is knowing what's out there and what you should use. After that, it's then how do you actually use it? And what about all those things you already use? With most products and services exposing and API of some sort, what many people need is to orchestrate the communication between those APIs.

Enter Stamplay

I've heard descriptions of Stamplay range from "It's like If This Then That on Steroids", "It's like a version of AWS Lambda that I'd want to use" to "This is going to put me out of a job". And depending on your use case it could be any of those things, all of them, or something else entirely. They all resonate with me in various ways.

It lets you create your own custom snippets of code to run, which then accessible via an API end-point. You can chain together a range of existing services you use, passing data in and out of each until you've built up something useful. That whole chain of events again exposed via a URL. Put a thin layer of HTML and Javascript in front and you've got yourself a fully-hosted and managed application that is ready to go. Or you've got an API that handles a data-pipeline for you. Or set up a scheduled task to run to push that experience out via SMS, email, or into your Slack team.

The possibilities are almost limitless. Because your own code is turned into bite-sized blocks that can be mixed and matched with the hundreds of existing blocks your business is already using.

The reason this gets me excited is because it combines so much of the engineering flexibility of a service like AWS Lambda, with the supporting suite of services so many MBaaS products have promised in the past, and the added flexibility to be as bare-bones API or rich client experience as you need. And the team have already got a wealth of well documented examples to highlight some of the common use cases:

All of this, and the future it's moving towards, is why I invested in Stamplay last year.

Glenn Gillen

I'm an advisor to, and investor in, early-stage tech startups. Beyond that I'm an incredibly fortunate husband and father. Working on a developer-facing tool or service? Thinking about starting one? Email me and let me know or come to one of our days to help make it a reality.