"What is a web API?" At APImetrics, we actually get this question a lot. And I found someone asking this question recently on Quora as well. I answered it there, and I thought it'd be helpful to post it here, too. Happy learning! To understand what a web API is, it’s necessary to understand what makes a HTTP request to an API different from a HTTP request to any old URI (Universal Resource Indicator, which typically might be a webpage). Generally, we might expect that a HTTP server will return HTML. After all, it is the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. But [...]
One of the things about APIs is that they're subject to change. API changes might be because the API endpoints and methods have been changed. In this case, a good API provider will give its users plenty of warning about API changes. There will also probably be a grace period as the deprecated and new versions of the API operate side-by-side before the switch. Even if you pay for the API, it's going to be up to you to make sure the third-party API you depend on is going to ensure continuity of service. But it's all too easy to [...]
Generally speaking, there are four big API questions that every API stakeholder needs to answer: Discovery: How do I know there’s an API? Documentation: What does the API do, and how? Authorization: How do I get to use the API? Quality/performance monitoring: Does the API do what it is supposed to do? An experienced API engineering team can help with these issues. But none of them are particularly quick, easy or cheap matters to handle. Discovery You can look somewhere like Programmable Web to find out what APIs are out there. It currently lists more than 17,461 APIs. That’s a [...]
After conducting the largest analysis of API performance ever undertaken, we've reached the same conclusion as we did when we first started with APImetrics. Half of the APIs we survey STILL fall below expected quality standards. As Kin Lane, the API Evangelist says, "You wouldn’t operate an API without having the right data regarding it’s availability and stability—the same is true for the API industry, and the folks at APImetrics have those numbers." In our original study, we were only able to focus on conventional error or success codes like HTTP 200. We didn't have the sophistication to understand more of the context of [...]
It's come to our attention that we had a significant issue affecting data collection from our remote agents over the 4th of July weekend. We've traced the problem to our services bus that connects the remote agents to our data store. This has been rectified and we are taking steps to ensure this type of event can't happen again, unfortunately, it will have resulted in a weekend of lost data from the different collection points. Calls made from our default server will be unaffected. If you have any additional questions please don't hesitate to contact us.
We're in the process of rolling out some new analytics tools and we've been looking at some headline numbers. The first headline number is 83,000,000 - that's how many API calls we've run since we started APImetrics and, because we believe in learning from data, that's how many records we have in our database. The second number, which is what surprised us, of that number about 1,600,000 are out and out failures - that is the API returned, for some reason, a 5XX error. We have a much higher rate of 4XX errors, but they could be related to token [...]
An article including a number of things we've discovered over the last year and very handy for anybody who is starting to try and figure out what a Service Level Agreement (SLA) actually means for an API, a micro-service or, for that matter, the cloud. We're going to be expanding our feature set around SLA monitoring and we'll keep you informed of the status over the next few months. Enjoy this one, it's an excellent read from CIO.com.
API Time Travel We frequently check general performance data to look for 'odd' responses and we found an interesting one today which involved an API call on a test server which took -284,027ms, or just a little under 5 minutes. We assume that the host had to have a clock reset in the middle of making the API call, but it was an interesting results and one which has led to a small change on our side to error out such platform induced time issues in the future. Once again, this makes it clear to us that just [...]
As one of our feature enhancements we've improved the way our agents work, we are now consistently capturing key data on the actual API performance including: DNS Lookup time: i.e. 28355µs (28ms) Time to Connect: i.e 76106µs (76ms) Time for Handshake: i.e 0µs (0ms) Upload time: i.e. 48µs (0ms) Processing time: i.e. 120568µs (121ms) Download time: i.e. 2545µs (3ms) However, this improvement has raised two issues. Firstly, we have realized that we had some minor reporting issues with our old collection agents which means that some of the latencies we are recording were actually better than actually were being experienced. [...]
Twitter had an extremely rare outage today, as our recent social media report showed, they're one of the most reliable services we measure. But they do have outages and given the range of services plugged into the APIs it affected people enough that the news outlets noticed: BBC Coverage here So, were you ready for it? The problems seem to have started around 13:00UTC (5am Pacific) and started clearing up around 15:00. They were intermitent and we'll publish a more detailed review of the anatomy of this outage and the identifying characteristics later. From our initial insights, the US was [...]