Applications Programming Interfaces (API) allow different applications to communicate and exchange data. They are a defined set of rules that make calls, define how the calls are made, responses made and the data formats used. They have been implemented in almost every other application we use today, changing our lives and how businesses operate.
This means that APIs are a very important aspect of our daily activities. However, APIs fail at times. When this happens, it is very easy for businesses to lose customers and negatively affect their operations. For example, a business that relies on an API for bookings might lose a lot of customers if that API fails. It will, in turn, lose revenue as well.
When building APIs, developers and testers are supposed to work together to make sure that they address all issues from the design stage to the testing and even the deployment stage.
Testing is very important since it gives insights into any issues that might lead to the failure or the underperformance of an API. This list shows the tools that developers use to gain insights into the performance, functionality, security, and reliability of their APIs.
That notwithstanding, there are a number of reasons that contribute highly to the underperformance and failure of APIs. The most common reasons include;
1. Breakdown in Communication
Communication is an important part of the success of an API. Let us take an example where you are trying to connect to a service that is running on the cloud. You want to implement some functionalities offered by this service and are accessing the service using a URL or even a proxy address.
However, you might be faced with a situation where the connection fails. This might be caused by a failure from the hosting service provider, communication infrastructure failure, or even an overload of requests. In such a situation, you might be redirected to another address without taking any action on your side.
What would happen if you are not redirected? What if you receive an HTTP status code that requires you to take some action on your side or maybe you do not get any response at all? This could mean that your application would definitely fail.
To avoid such issues, developers need to make sure that they have included ways through which their APIs can deal with failed connections and timeouts. Their APIs should recognize and correctly respond to error codes and any redirections without requiring a lot of work.
2. Changes in Software
Most of the time, changes in software take quite some time before they are indicated in the software documentation. This means that an API call might not work in the current version of a software application even though everything worked well in the previous version of the same application.
This calls for the developers to find out what the new version of the application requires for the API calls to work well. It might mean changing things like the arguments and syntax used or even using a different format for the syntax and arguments.
API Developers who are not keen on these things will without any doubt have their APIs failing. They need to make sure that they are keeping a close eye on the versioning of the applications that implement their APIs.
3. Use of Bad Data
An API call might be taking data from one location to another and passing a response on to the original location. Sometimes, API developers may not be in the know when anything happens to the data or even where the data came from. As such, the data might not be in the format required by the other application or even the API.
This means that an error code might be sent for them to respond accordingly. However, it is not always the case. Some APIs and applications might fail to send any error code. This would mean that the API is failing and not meeting its expectations. This can be avoided by effectively validating, checking, and filtering data.
APIs are the building blocks that dictate the communication between different applications. Even though they play a very critical role, they can fail at times or perform in ways that do not meet our expectations. Apart from ensuring API security levels are at their very best, developers are also supposed to adequately test the APIs and monitor them throughout to make sure that they meet their requirements.