Erin McKean

Founder, Wordnik


How Low Can You Go? Reducing Costs and Development Time with AWS Lambda, API Gateway, Elastic Beanstalk, and 3scale (and don't forget Swagger!)

More than 18,000 developers have keys to the Wordnik API, which they use to build everything from edtech applications to word games to Twitterbots! Our original architecture has served more than 2bn calls since 2010, and has largely been a free service.

When Wordnik relaunched as a nonprofit in late 2014, we realized we had to monetize our API to create a sustainable foundation for future development, and in order to monetize, we needed to reduce our operating costs and introduce new features -- neither of which our previous architecture made simple.

Enter AWS Lambda+API Gateway! By breaking down our current API into tiny functions, we can take advantage of the current microservice craze with minimal ops headaches. And by using Elastic Beanstalk and 3Scale to manage a reverse proxy, handling routing between the old and new API calls and managing billing is much easier, too. Add a pretty Swagger interface on top and you''re good to go ... faster and cheaper!

Speaker Bio

Erin McKean is the founder of the newly-not-for-profit, the world's biggest online dictionary. Before founding Wordnik, she was the editor-in-chief of American Dictionaries for Oxford University Press, and before Javascript, she dabbled in HyperCard, Perl, and Omnimark (if you have ever written anything in Omnimark, she will buy you a drink). She's the author of the Weird and Wonderful Words books, the best-selling novel The Secret Lives of Dresses, and (most recently) The Hundred Dresses, a field guide to dresses. She blogs at When you meet her, please tell her your favorite word.