Better Analytics With APIs Part 1: How the internet works
Welcome! My name is Lyzi, I work on APIs, and I like teaching.
Goal of this workshop: You feel sparkley.

Credit where credit is due.This information comes from a series of amazing blog posts, presentations, and books. Full links on the last slide.
We're going to start with a scenario:
Hassan checks his Facebook.I don't know anyone named Hassan, but this is a good example for talking through the process of what happens when you use the internet.
Three main pieces to discuss:
Hassan's computer requests a web site, the server sends back a response, and then Hassan's browser needs to parse the response and do something with it.
Part I: Requests
1. Hassan types into the browser and presses Enter.
From Hassan's perspective, what's the next thing that happens?the page loads. but really, what's going on behind the scenes?
1a. The browser adds a few things to the URL:

You can go really deep here.each of these steps can be broken down into many many sub-steps
1b. The browser looks up the domain in DNS — Domain Name System
PSA: Computers are dumb.

Computers need rules to communicate with each other. In internet land, these are protocols.hint: if an acronym has a "p" in it, it probably stands for protocol.
DNS takes the human-readable URL and converts it to an IP (Internet Protocol) address.
Every machine connected to the web has an IP address, including yours!

Importantly: so does DNS tells the browser what IP address is associated with that URL.
1c. The browser + your computer generate an HTTP request. (What does HTTP stand for?)
A request contains a few different pieces:
Main types of request methods:
Back to Hassan. What type of request did his browser make?
The resource is what we're requesting. In this case, we are requesting
, which is the same as
-- the main page.
The server needs the name of the resource to route the request to the right spot (more on this in a sec).
The headers give the server additional information to fulfill the request. Common headers include:
There are a ton of HTTP headers.
The request body is not used in a
request, but is used when posting or updating resources on a server.
1d. Once the request is completed, it gets sent by Hassan's computer to the correct server (as identified by IP address with the help of DNS).
in this moment, Hassan's computer becomes a client
Part II: Responses
You may have noticed we're still on step 1.Hassan isn't seeing any of this happening, so to him, this is all part of typing in the URL and pressing enter. That's why we're on step 1.
1e. The server receives the request and breaks it down to get the info it needs:
1f. The server verfies a bunch of info: does a host for the requested domain exist on that server? If so, can it accept the request type? Is the client (Hassan's computer) allowed to make that kind of request?
In our case Hassan is requesting a public web page. Unless DNS did something really wrong, he should be good.
1g. Once verfied, the server may change info about the request for internal purposes. #serverstuff

1h. Server finds the requested resource!

1g. Server constructs a response to send back to Hassan's computer.
Like requests, responses also contain a few well-defined pieces.
Remember when I said computers are dumb?worth bringing up again -- everything computers do is well defined and specific.
A response contains a few different pieces:
Look familiar? ;)
The headers are similar to request headers -- they give info about the response and any instructions for the client.
Common headers include:
There are a ton of HTTP headers.
The body contains the requested resource (payload). In Hassan's case, this resource is the HTML page that makes up
Part III: Parsing the response
Don't worry, we haven't forgotten Hassan.
1h. Once the browser receives the response, it reads the HTML page and starts rendering it.
Sooner than later, the HTML file will tell the browser to request an additional resource for the page, and all of this starts again.
2. Hassan enjoys his news feed!
You may be asking: "What about Hassan's specific content? His and my do not look the same."
Depending on the application, there are two places where the specific content can be added:
(That's kind of out of scope of this workshop, though.)
Part IV: Overview and tools
The best tool for understanding requests and responses? Your browser.
switch over to console and inspect things
This is a super cursory overview, but you are a champion!
Tweet me @lyzidiamond, email me, find these slides at

Stay for Part 2: The Help Scout API!
Special thanks to @tmcw, @scothis, what-happens-when by @alex, Mozilla Developer Network, and many others!