In Combat With Rogue APIs

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

As a developer, I am well aware that application programming interfaces (APIs) are wonderful tools that may make our life a lot simpler. They provide us with access to large quantities of data and capabilities that would otherwise be inaccessible to us without their assistance. APIs, on the other hand, may be a major pain in the duck when they don’t function as intended by their designers.

A rogue API is an API that does not behave in the manner in which it is intended to. It is possible that it will provide unexpected results, or that it will not operate at all. Whatever the case, a rogue API can pose a slew of issues for developers who attempt to make use of the service.

Consider the following scenario: you’re developing a mobile application that requires access to a certain piece of data. You submit a call to the API, and the API responds with a response that makes no sense to you. It may also return an error message, which is far worse. Now comes the difficult task of determining the source of the problem, which can be quite time-consuming. Unexpected API changes, for example, are an example of this.

Consider the following scenario: you’re using an API to access a database. The API is well-documented, and you are fully aware of how it operates. However, one day you submit a request and receive an answer that is radically different from the previous ones. The data is in a new format, or it has a different structure than before. Now you must go back and adjust your code to conform to the new API, which may be a time-consuming and frustrating process.

According to the examples above, rogue APIs can generate a wide range of issues for developers. They may be quite inconvenient to deal with, and they frequently lead us to spend a significant amount of time.

So, what can we do in order to combat rogue APIs?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do to help you right now. We have no influence over how an API acts, and we have no means of knowing when an API will alter its behavior. There’s nothing we can do but attempt to be as prepared as possible for when things go wrong.

Verify that the API is authentic

There are a few ways to verify that the API is authentic:

  • Check the source code of the page that is making the API call. If the API call is hardcoded into the page, then it is likely that the API is authentic.
  • Check the Terms of Service for the API. If the API requires an application key or other credentials, then it is likely that the API is authentic.
  • Contact the owner of the API. If the owner of the API cannot be reached, then the API is likely not authentic.

Check that the API is trustworthy

There are a few ways to check if an API is trustworthy:

  • Check the API’s documentation to see if it is well-written and up-to-date.
  • Look for third-party reviews of the API.
  • Check the API’s terms of service to see if it allows third-party developers to access and use the API.

Make sure that the API is well-documented

The best way to ensure that an API is well-documented is to create a comprehensive and up-to-date documentation set. This documentation should include a description of each API endpoint, as well as a list of all parameters and responses. In addition, it is helpful to include code samples and explicit instructions on how to use the API.

Check for positive reviews of the API

Here are some ways to check if the API has positive reviews:

  • search for it online and see what kinds of results come up. If most of the results are from reliable sources and are generally positive, then the API is probably viewed favorably
  • You can use the Google Places API to check for positive reviews of businesses and attractions.
  • Look for user feedback and positive reviews on websites and forums. Google searching the API name can also bring up interesting reviews.

Rogue APIs can be a nuisance, but if we anticipate them and plan for them, they can be less difficult to deal with. Through the use of proper error handling and unit testing, we can ensure that our code continues to function even when an API goes rogue. So the next time you’re working with an API, keep in mind that anything might happen.

In conclusion

APIs can be a great asset to developers, but they can also be a pain when they don’t work the way they’re supposed to. To prepare for rogue APIs, it’s important to have good error handling in place and to unit test your code.

Read more about rogue API in an extended article by API Mike.

Written by Hassan


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