{"API Evangelist"}

Where Do Developers Get Idea That APIs Should Never Go Away?

Almost every time an API shuts down, the tech blogosphere, and the social networks favored by the tech community erupts in comments resembling: That is what you get for depending on APIs, and APIs can go away at any time, you should know better by now, and you should not build a company on someone elses resources--just to name a few.

Where did this line of thought begin? Why do developers feel so burned when a popular API like Netflix, ESPN, or Google Translate is deprecated? The main reason is lack of communication. Developers need a long runway that an API is going to be deprecated. Something that will mitigate much of the backlash, but still the comments are never, why didn't Netflix communicate with us (they did), it is highlighting that APIs can go away at any point.

What other business in the world do you have vendors that do not go away? I cannot think of a single business, where you select a supplier of products or services you depend on for your business, without any chance of that company going bankrupt, shutting down, being sold, or possibly just discontinuing providing a particular products or services you depend on.

I find it particularly interesting that this is an argument that continues to hold weight, and while you will hear me push back on API providers to communicate better around the deprecation of their APIs, you will never hear me say an API should never shut down, or you shouldn't ever use an API to build applications. Just like any other business area, you should carefully research your vendors, make sensible choices about why you use one over another, and when possible have contingency plans for your operations.

I would be curious to hear ideas about the possible origins of why developers feel like this. I can't think of any precedent that would have set this tone for the conversation, and after almost 14 years of the modern web AP industry, developers are still crying fowl, and the tech blogosphere still finds it relevant to stir up sentiment that APIs are not reliable because of these high profile deprecations.