Time to First Hello World

What does Time To First Hello World mean exactly? Those who are developers understand this Hello World expression and this phrase is used when you are testing the development of something for the first time. For example, you installed a framework for a programming language and want to know if everything is OK. Then you put a string line in a document that will display the phrase Hello World on the screen.

But why is the time for this so critical? For the context, the Hello World expression means more than the basic meaning, it means the time for the developer to start building an application. It could be minutes, hours or days.

Imagine you starting to build an internet company, and hired a few developers to code the platform for you. Basically, what are you dealing with in the development team? Two simple questions:

How long will it take up to the first release?

How much will I invest for the first release?

These two questions are entirely related because the more time you spend on development more money will need to be invested in the product.

Thinking as a manager, you know the coding hour is not cheap, and most of the time the cheapest is not the best option. So, let’s think about the best scenario, you are highly invested in the best development team to deliver the best product in the least time possible. It’s hard to realize that situation, but we are working on this scenario.

Let’s use the example that I cited on the post about Content Management as a Service. The team is building a simple site with content management for the first release. So they will create an admin panel to manage all the site content, and it represents posts, images, videos, pages, URLs, tests, monitoring, admin users, permissions, users and the content and distribution of this. Remembering, this is a very simple example, just to understand how the development process works.

Let’s estimate the first release to 1 month, or 160 hours of coding, with a team of 2 developers with $50/hour salary; we’re not counting the designer in the scenario. Doing this basic math, we are investing $16,000, no server costs included, for this simple CMS site and waiting one month, at least, to go to the market.

Now let’s introduce the use of an API Business scenario keeping the same team and salary. As they don’t need to create the whole admin panel to control the features, they will just invest time on the site using the API which saves a bunch of time, complexity and lines of code.

In the scenario, we can estimate that the same release will be released with 25% of time invested from the hard code estimative, meaning one week, or 40 work hours for each developer. Ok, we will not use an open source project, let’s use a commercial platform that costs $250/month average. The result is a go-to-market time of 1 week, investing $8k in the development team, and $62.50, proportional for the time, of CMS API. At the end of the week, we released a product investing $8,062.

Ok, we see the difference but we’ll have to pay the API monthly and not just until the release. So, how much would I have to pay to equalize the amount in the first scenario? The clearest difference in investment is about the development team, in the first one we spent $16,000 and the second $8,000, a difference of $8,000. Then let’s use this difference to calculate how many months I can use the API business to pay this bill. Magically, we have 32 months paying the service, in other words, the company has almost three years of advantage.

Additionally, we did not talk about product quality and continuous improvements, most times the API service has an excellent and easy to use (UX) product because they are focused on doing one thing as best as possible.

To conclude, what’s the big deal about the API economy? It’s to save money invested in building things already done by others and taking advantage of the integrations interface to create better and faster products.