Most Common API Issues & How to Fix Them

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Image showing common API issues & how to fix them

APIs have become a crucial connection in the space where business and technology meet. According to MarketsandMarkets, the API management market is projected to be worth $5.1 billion by 2023. It's clear that API use is growing and that this growth will continue well into the future. While APIs offer plenty of benefits, some common API issues tend to arise, regardless of industry. Learn more about frequent API issues and how to resolve them - or if you're in a rush to get some of yours fixed, schedule a call right now to talk with one of DreamFactory's expert API specialists.

Here's 5 common API issues:

  • Common API Issue #1 (Using HTTP Instead of HTTPS): Neglecting to use HTTPS for API endpoints poses security risks and can lead to errors like 500 Internal Server Error and 403 Forbidden.
  • Common API Issue #2 (Using the Wrong HTTP Method): Using incorrect HTTP methods can result in a 405 Not Allowed error, and it's essential to refer to API documentation for the right method.
  • Common API Issue #3 (Using Invalid Authorization): Invalid authorization, often indicated by a 403 Forbidden error, requires checking credentials and proper formatting in API documentation.
  • Common API Issue #4 (Caching Errors): Caching errors can occur when outdated information or error states are cached, and solutions include reducing caching time and exploring non-caching testing environments.
  • Common API Issue #5 (Invalid Fields): This issue arises when passing data to an API, and it can be resolved by ensuring data alignment with API documentation specifications.

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Common API Issue #1: Using HTTP Instead of HTTPS 

Security risks are a common problem in API development and API use. Everything you do in your business involves the collection, distribution, or storage of data.  Making sure that data remains secure is crucial. Hackers are always looking for ways to get their hands on sensitive data and information. Therefore, using HTTP status codes instead of HTTPS is a major mistake when developing API endpoints. Overall, with the majority of websites already adopting HTTPS over HTTP, API endpoints must do the same to remain relevant and valuable. 

While APIs should be built with HTTPS endpoints, some won't. An API without an HTTPS endpoint can cause a cascade of errors later. Some of the most common errors that occur without HTTPS endpoints include:

  • 500 Internal Server Error: This error indicates that the server can't handle the request. 
  • 403 Forbidden: This error can indicate an undetected HTTP vs. HTTPS error.
  • 404 Not Found: This error can indicate that a server does not have an HTTP endpoint and that your API request can't be processed. 

Related Reading: 7 Must-Know Factors in API Development

How to Fix This API Issue

The easiest way to avoid these common API issues is to build your API with HTTPS endpoints. If an HTTPS endpoint is not utilized, you will most likely run into issues down the road with your API.

Common API Issue #2: Using the Wrong HTTP Method 

Another common API issue is using the wrong HTTP method. API endpoints require different HTTP methods, such as GET, POST, PUT, PATCH, or DELETE. The HTTP method needed depends on the action you're trying to complete. For example, anytime you access a website in your browser, you are utilizing a GET request. In addition, the GET and the POST methods are the most common HTTP methods. 

How to Fix This Common API Issue

Luckily, detecting an HTTP method error is generally straightforward. If an API can recognize the route but can tell you're using the wrong method, often a 405 Not Allowed error will display. When your API call returns an error, you should be able to double-check the documentation to make sure you are using the correct HTTP method. 

Related Reading: APIs and Logistics: How APIs Are Changing the Face of the Logistics Industry

Common API Issue #3: Using Invalid Authorization 

APIs generally require some sort of authorization or authentication, such as an API key, a username and password combination, an OAuth 2 token, or a JSON Web Token. Therefore, one common API issue that can arise is invalid authorization. API authorization issues typically display a 403 Forbidden error. 

How to Fix This API Issue

Fixing an invalid authorization requires you to check your credentials and API documentation to ensure they are formatted correctly. 

Common API Issue #4: Caching Errors 

It is pretty common to cache APIs that are heavily used. This helps improve performance for everyone accessing the API. Generally, this is a beneficial practice as it provides everyone with the ability to obtain data as and when they need it. However, some drawbacks can cause caching errors.

One common caching error occurs when the information from the API is cached and outdated due to a prolonged caching period. A second caching error can happen when the original error state is also cached. This can often lead to an API returning an error even though it has been resolved. If you’re experiencing caching error issues with your API, schedule a call with an API specialist at DreamFactory today to learn more about API testing and API support.

How to Fix This Common API Issue

Fixing outdated information caching errors that have to do with outdated information requires reducing your caching time. This keeps information more up to date. In comparison, fixing a caching error that occurs because of an error state can be a bit more complex to debug. However, you can generally fix this API issue by checking with your API provider to see if there is a testing environment that doesn't utilize caching. 

Common API Issue #5: Invalid Fields 

Another one of these common API issues is invalid fields. Invalid field issues tend to arise when you're passing data to an API instead of just receiving data. In order to avoid invalid fields, it's essential to provide all the data the API expects while also ignoring data it doesn't support.  

How to Fix These Issues

The easiest way to fix this common API issue is to read through the endpoint documentation for any API endpoint you're trying to access and ensure that you are passing the correct data. In addition, if you encounter this error and have already run through the debugging steps for the previous API errors, it is a good idea to double-check your data to ensure that it matches all specifications indicated in the API documentation. 

API Best Practices

When it comes to building and using APIs, a few straightforward practices can go a long way in preventing common issues and making your API experience smoother:

  1. Use HTTPS: Always make sure your API uses HTTPS for secure communication. It keeps your data safe and is pretty much the standard nowadays.
  2. Check HTTP Methods: Verify that you're using the right HTTP methods for your API calls. If the documentation says "GET," don't use "POST" – it's that simple.
  3. Authorization Matters: Ensure your API is correctly authorized and authenticated. Follow the rules and guidelines provided in the documentation.
  4. Keep an Eye on Caching: If you're caching data, don't forget to refresh it when it's outdated. Caching outdated info can lead to problems.
  5. Mind the Fields: When you send data to an API, ensure it matches what the API expects. Check the documentation and avoid sending extra stuff.

Following these basics will help you steer clear of many common API headaches and keep things running smoothly.

Getting Started with DreamFactory

While you may discover issues with an API from time to time, the benefits of APIs far outweigh the drawbacks. If you're ready to discover how implementing REST APIs or SOAP APIs can help elevate your business, DreamFactory is here to help. Register today to discover DreamFactory's new features and to try out the platform for yourself.

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