API woes

I’ve just been on my site for the first time in nearly a month (been busy dammit!) and spotted that 2 of the plugins I wrote to use on my homepage are broken. Not good.

First was my Xbox plugin – which I never actually got round to publicly releasing – for which the API I was using had apparently stopped returning data. A quick check and it turns out the Xbox API I was using (written by Duncan MacKenzie) had been switched off. To be fair, if he really was receiving 3million hits a day then I see his point – aside from a little hat tip in my plugin code (which he would probably have never even seen) he would have been getting very little credit for his efforts, and maintaining the API, and paying for the bandwidth, was probably costing him a fortune.

I was tempted to berate him for not giving any notice to the people that use it, but then it occurred to me – as well as not having to sign up at all, he was providing it for free. So to be fair, I have no right to complain. I just wish he’s considered moving to a more sustainable model – I’d have paid a couple of £ a month to use it, as I’m sure many others would have, and he may have even been able to turn it into a profit maker. I guess now we’ll never know.

The other was Momentile – a 365 photo project site. They never actually officially had an API, but did provide RSS feeds for each user, which I was hooking into to display your latest photos. Great – except they relaunched yesterday with no warning, and the photo URLs changed – so now that plugin has broke too. To be fair though, it did sound like they’d been forced to launch early as the iPhone app update was accepted unusually quickly, but still – would have been good for at a few hours notice. Crap, if they’d let me know the day before I could have pushed an update out same day in preparation, but right now I’m 250 miles from home and most likely won’t get a chance to go it until Tuesday now. Shame.

So yeah, I’m not sure if there’s a lesson to be learned here or not. To the API providers, I guess the lesson is if your users are willing to spend their free time writing stuff that helps promote you (and even more so if they’re not making any money out of it) a quick email to let them know so that they don’t end up getting grief from their plugin users (complaining it’s not working) would be ideal. The lesson for me? Never trust an API will be around forever.

Anyways, since I started typing this I’ve discovered maybe I can get that plugin fixed today, so I’m off to give it a go. Wish me luck. 🙂

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