API Reliability News

These are the news items I've curated in my monitoring of the API space that have some relevance to the API definition conversation and I wanted to include in my research. I'm using all of these links to better understand how the space is testing their APIs, going beyond just monitoring and understand the details of each request and response.

A Service Level Agreement API For API Service Providers

I am spending some time profiling the companies who are part of my API monitoring research, specifically learning about the APIs they offer as part of their solutions. I do this work so that I can better understand what API monitoring service providers are offering, but also for the discoveries I make along the way--this is how I keep API Evangelist populated with stories. 

An interesting API I came across during this work was from the Site24X7 monitoring service, specifically their service level agreement (SLA) API. An API for adding, managing, and reporting against SLA's that you establish as part of the monitoring of your APIs. Providing a pretty interesting API pattern that seems like it should be part of the default API management stack for all API providers.

This would allow API providers to manage SLA's for their operations, but also potentially expose this layer for each consumer of the API, letting them understand SLA"s that are in place, and whether or not they have been met--in a way that could be seamlessly integrated with existing systems. An API for SLA management for API providers seems like it could also be a standalone operation as well, helping broker this layer of the API economy, and provide a rating system for how well API providers are holding up their end of the API contract.

Thinking About How I Can Build Change Resilience Into My API Integrations

After I wrote a piece on guidance from the USGS around writing fault-resistant code when putting their API to use, my friend Darrel Miller expanding on this by suggesting I include "change resilience" as part of the definition. 

It is something that has sat in my notebook for a couple weeks, and keeps floating up as a concept I'd like to explore further. I have some initial thoughts on what this means but is something that I need to write about before I grasp better. Hopefully, it will bring more suggestions about what change resilient code means to other people.

Ok, so off the top of my head, what elements would I consider when thinking about producing change resilient client code:

  • Status Codes - Making sure clients read, and pay attention to HTTP status codes used by API providers.
  • Hypermedia - Links are fragile, and avoiding baking them into clients makes a whole lotta sense. 
  • Plan B API - Have a backup API identified, that can be used when the A API provider goes away.
  • Circuit Breaker - Build in a circuit breaker into code that responds to specific status codes and events.

Now that I'm exploring, I have to ask, who's responsibility is it to build change resilience into the clients? Provider or consumer? Seems like there is a healthy responsibility on both parties? IDK. I guess we should just all be honest about how fragile the API space is, and providers should be honest with consumers when it comes to thinking about change resiliency, but ultimately API consumers have to begin to thinking more deeply and investing more when it comes planning for change--not just freaking out when it happens.

I have to admit that the code I have written as part of my API monitoring system, which integrates with over 30 APIs, isn't very fault or change resistant. When things break, they break. As the only user, this isn't a showstopper for me, but thinking about change is something I"m going to be considering as I kick the tires on my client. While these APIs have been incredibly stable for me, I can't help but listen to Darrel and want to be asking more questions when it comes to dealing with change across my API integrations.

If you think there is a link I should have listed here feel free to tweet it at me, or submit as a Github issue. Even though I do this full time, I'm still a one person show, and I miss quite a bit, and depend on my network to help me know what is going on.