It seems that every webhosting business these days is crazy about APIs. Webhosts have finally started to realize the importance of APIs for automating a variety of tasks. Here are four things you need to consider before proceeding with an API integration plan.

Supported Functionality

Before proceeding with any API integration, you would need to check whether the functionality you desire to implement is supported by the API provider. Many API providers have a limited API platform which allows access to specific functionality. Do not assume that you can access all functionality that you access via your provider’s web interface via API. Get in touch with your API provider, or have a technical person look at it. Most of the time, there is a workaround for what you’re trying to achieve.

Technical Limitations

Many API providers have technical limitations in place. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Rate Limits: Many API providers have limits on the number of queries you can execute per day. You would need to make sure your application doesn’t need to exceed that limit, and find workarounds for that.
  • Request/Response Formats: Many API providers require you to create your requests and receive your responses in a specific format. Make sure that your application can support such requests without a major overhaul. This is especially true when integrating APIs with existing systems.
  • Request Restrictions: Some API providers only allow you to execute requests from specific domains/IPs. Your integration plan needs to address those issues if they exist.

Legal Limitations

n addition to the technical limitations mentioned above, some API providers have legal limitations in place in order to make sure that data retrieved via the API is properly used. For example, LinkedIn allows you to fetch a user’s connection information, but it doesn’t allow you to share that data with third parties. Although this is technically possible, it’s legally impossible to do so, and implementing such a solution will only cause your API access to be cut.
Knowing those legal limitations in advance will help you properly plan your integration and address any issues earlier in the process.

Network Issues

With API-based systems, there is a lot of network activity going on. Your application needs to be able to properly handle issues such as the API server being unavailable, or the route between your application and the API server being inaccessible (DNS Issues, Routing Issues, Traffic Issues…). Your application needs to gracefully handle such issues in the backend, and present users with a meaningful error message.

Food for Thought

Have you ever tried to integrate an API? If so, what are some of the valuable things you learned? If not, it’s time to consider working with an API expert who can truly help you achieve your goals on time and on budget.