Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

    Do we rely on open APIs too much?

    • Friends

      Image by Kassel via Flickr

    Open API's have become the staple of the internets. If you have a website and it doesn't offer some kind of API then you're an idiot these days. One of those people stuck in the past. For the purpose of this swapping generalisation let's assume an RSS is a sort of basic API.

    When everything has an API it's very easy to create mashups, connect services and sometimes even create something wonderful - like for example the whole ecosystem Twitter has become.

    However, there is a dark side to this intercommingling of everything. There are two actually, but I'll focus on the first for now.

    What happens when a service provider decides to discontinue their API support? Or what happens when somebody begins a lock down procedure to improve their own profitability? Darker still, what when the provider's official API users automagically work and everybody else is in a sea of inexplicable trouble?

    Something similar happened to me yesterday night as I was readying Twitulater for release. I only had a few touch-ups to do here and there. But something dark and brooding came in between. Something drove a wedge right through my plans and slaughtered them whole.

    I was chatting to my girlfriend and wanted to give her a prank link. What better way to prank someone than first shortening the URL via a shortening service. I opted for my favourite, tr.im. But alas, the page greeted me with a warning only. It said they were unable to find a revenue stream and were simply shutting down, effective immediately.

    Luckily they pointed to another good provider, bit.ly, through which I could then shorten my url.

    But this left Twitulater in a dark spot, our primary and default url shortener didn't work. What now!? Well, I was up until about 4am that night, implementing bit.ly support. This of course wasn't easy, it could be easy, but it wasn't. For some reason bit.ly wants you to provide a username and a key and other strange things before you can use their API - on native Twitter of course it just automagically works.

    So in the end, because one service shut down and another is a bit silly with authentication, I was left with a very delayed release schedule and a usability nightmare hidden inside my application, for anyone to discover when they post a link.

    Thus I propose a question to everyone, are we becoming too reliant on open API's?

    PS: it has just come to my attention through the Zemanta plugin that tr.im decided not to die after all.

    Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Published on August 12th, 2009 in Online Communities, Twitter, Twitulater, Uncategorized,

    Learned something new?
    Read more Software Engineering Lessons from Production

    I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.

    Subscribe below 👇

    Software Engineering Lessons from Production

    Join Swizec's Newsletter and get insightful emails 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.

    "Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"

    ~ Ashish Kumar

    Join 15,883+ engineers learning lessons from my "raw and honest from the heart" emails.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨
    4.5 stars average rating

    Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.

    Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.

    Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.

    Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev

    Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

    Want to get my best emails on JavaScript, React, Serverless, Fullstack Web, or Indie Hacking? Check out swizec.com/collections

    Want to brush up on modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog

    Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️

    Created by Swizec with ❤️