How to Handle external API errors: In a resumable approach


Mar 20, 2023

Handling external API errors in a resumable approach is crucial for ensuring that your application remains functional and responsive even when external services are experiencing issues. Here are some strategies to handle external API errors in a way that allows your application to resume normal operation when possible:

  1. Implement error handling and logging:

Create a comprehensive error-handling mechanism that can identify and log the different types of API errors. This will help you diagnose issues and take appropriate actions to resolve them.

  1. Use retries with exponential backoff:

  2. When encountering a temporary API error (e.g., rate limiting or server downtime), implement a retry mechanism with exponential backoff. This involves retrying the API request after progressively longer waiting periods, reducing the likelihood of overwhelming the external service.

  3. Set timeouts and handle them gracefully:

  4. Define reasonable timeouts for API requests to prevent your application from waiting indefinitely for a response. If a timeout occurs, handle it gracefully by returning a relevant error message or default data, and log the incident for further analysis.

  5. Utilize circuit breakers:

  6. Implement a circuit breaker pattern to detect when an external API is consistently failing. When the failure rate reaches a certain threshold, the circuit breaker "trips" and stops sending requests to the API, allowing it to recover. Once the API is available again, the circuit breaker resets, and requests resume.

  7. Provide fallback data or functionality:

  8. When an API error occurs, consider providing fallback data or alternative functionality to maintain application usability. This could include cached data, default values, or an alternative API as a backup.

  9. Validate and sanitize input data:

  10. Ensure that the input data sent to the API is properly validated and sanitized to prevent sending malformed requests, which can result in API errors.

  11. Monitor and alert on API errors:

  12. Set up monitoring and alerting systems to notify you when API errors occur, allowing you to respond promptly and take corrective action if necessary.

  13. Implement graceful degradation:

  14. Design your application to degrade gracefully when an external API is unavailable or experiencing issues. This can involve disabling specific features or providing limited functionality without compromising the overall user experience.

  15. Communicate with users:

  16. Inform your users when your application is experiencing issues with external APIs. Provide clear error messages and, if possible, estimate when the issue will be resolved.
  17. Review API documentation and updates:
    Stay up-to-date with the API documentation, changelogs, and updates to ensure that your application continues to function correctly and adheres to the latest best practices.