Photo aggregation service Trove revealed results of a survey of Hacker News readers about API horrors and headaches.

Programmable Web (a site owned by ReadWriteWeb sponsor Alcatel-Lucent) counted up the mentions of specific APIs to try to determine which one drew the most ire from developers.

The verdict? Facebook is the worst. But actually, Facebook tied with “Other.” Given that Facebook is one of the most popular APIs, can we really conclude that Facebook has the worst API, or just the most commonly used?

Here’s a list of the most common gripes about APIs in general, from Trove’s blog post:

  • Poor documentation (how you loathe poor documentation)
  • OAuth (oh wow, do you hate OAuth)
  • Poor error handling
  • Lack of example code
  • Lack of test environments
  • Lack of standardized libraries across languages
  • APIs that change/break frequently (huge shout out to Facebook here, like you’re surprised)
  • Normalizing data to match internal data structures
  • Line between use and abuse
  • Arbitrary throttling (differences between services)
  • Differing standards (REST v SOAP v XML-RPC, XML v JSON v POST, versioning v not, etc.)
  • Getting services to talk to a dev machine behind a firewall

Most of these can apply to just about any API, not just Facebook. But as Programmable Web executive editor Adam DuVander notes, Facebook really is called out explicitly and often.

Is the Facebook API really so bad?

Image Credit: Massimo Barbieri