People love to tell me how unreliable APIs are, while also echoing this sentiment across the tech blogosphere. I always find it challenging to reconcile how the entrepreneurs who spread these tales choose to put the blame on the technology, and not the companies behind the technology, or more appropriately, the investment behind the companies. APIs are just a reflection of what is going on already within a company, and aren't good nor bad—they are just a tool that can be implemented either well or not so well.
I was taking some time this last week to work on my API monitoring system, which I call Laneworks. In addition to having my own API stack, I depend on a variety of other APIs to operate my business. As I was kicking the tires and poking around the code for some of my most valuable integrations, I found myself thinking about the stability and reliability of APIs and how stable some APIs have been for me.
Since 2011, I have stored all heavy objects (images, video, audio) used in my API monitoring and research on S3. I have never had to update the code. Since 2012, I have used Pinboard as the core of my API curation system, aggregating links I favorited on Twitter, and have added using my browser bookmarklet. Again, I have never updated the code that drives this. Since 2013, all of my public websites run on Github using Github Pages, employing the Github API to publish blog posts and all other content and data used in my research.
The Amazon S3, Pinboard, and Github APIs make my business work. Three suppliers who have been working without a problem for 5, 4, and 3 years. The only thing I have had to do is pay my bill, and keep my API keys rotated, and the reliable API vendors to the rest. Storing images, video, and audio, curating the news and other stories I share with you, and publishing the blog posts and web pages that you use to browse my API research. So explain to me, why would you want to build a business on APIs when they are so unreliable?