One topic that comes up a lot in the API space is the decision of companies to deprecate an API’s version, or fully shutdown support for a popular API.
Take the most recent example of Google, which silently announced that it’s shutting down support for its Hangouts API in January, 2017. It is speculated that this was a move to focus on its consumer video chat app, Duo, which resulted in the decision to make Hangouts an enterprise grade solution. This has caused a lot of uncertainty for applications built on the API, like Roll20 and PingPong.
Public APIs are best thought of as a contract provided by one business unit to another, defined by the company providing the service. Various third-party developers and partner units can work with such APIs to build their own services.
This concept of “open APIs,” has been a driving force of innovation for application developers, but also comes with certain risk. One of the biggest risks of building apps or services with public APIs is this very nature of unreliability. As an organization that provides APIs to the public, it’s important to have a plan for how you will manage the deprecation and retirement of the different versions of your API. So how best do organizations deprecate APIs?
Let’s understand the reasoning behind API deprecation first, and then highlight some recommended practices to efficiently deprecate. [Read more…]