Types of Common API Error Messages
Critical errors, recoverable errors, and warnings are examples of very common API error types. Below is a look at the difference between the three most common major API error categories.
A critical error may be a timeout, where the system does not get a response during the pre-set time allowance. When something times out, there is no information about why the error occurred. The programmer has no details about if the system is down, if there was a problem in how the request was created, or if there was an issue with how the programmer is using the API.
This is called a critical error because the system will not recover anytime soon and the programmer has very little information from the system to solve the error.
Another example of a critical error could be that the programmer does get a response but the error message broke down, such as a 500 error. This error basically says “something broke, we don’t know what it was, and there is no additional information to help fix it.”
Recoverable errors can be item such as the programmer’s own system is not utilizing the API specifications correctly. The programmer may have not sent a required value, or the data was formatted incorrectly.
Additionally, it could be that the end-user did something wrong, such as entering an incorrect password or credit card number. With proper error messaging, the system can alert the end-user to their mistake and prompt them to complete the request with the correct information.
A good API will share within the error messaging what was done incorrectly so that the programmer can make the proper changes on their end.
Warnings could be that a request to the API was processed successfully but there may have been something that was not ideal in during the process.
An example of a warning would be if a travel booking was successful, so the primary business feature was a completed, however the seat that was requested did not get reserved. A warning would occur that would not stop the booking but allows for system administers to fix the problem or gives the end-user the opportunity to try again via a different method.