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It is indeed vitally important to remember that external APIs are unreliable and temporary. The question to ask in any given situation, though, is: How much more reliable and permanent is the code you own and manage yourself? And at what cost?

However high the odds are that the founders of a given startup will leave their company within five years, the odds that the people who built your in-house widget will leave your company within five years may well be higher. However high the odds that a given API will evolve away from your use case in five years, the odds that your use case will be obsolete in even less time may well be higher.

The underlying truth is that all APIs everywhere, in-house and out, have bugs and missing features and finite half-lives, unless you control them and continuously expend resources maintaining them. As your project grows older and more stable you may eventually discover that its expected half-life is longer than that of your provider APIs, and that's when it's time to start moving stuff in-house. This is when you realize, if you haven't already, that open-source software is your friend.




ANSI C programs written in 1989 still compile and run unmodified on any modern 32 bit Linux or Windows box. C programs using the BSD sockets API from 1982 still work unmodified on Linux. Fortran77 code has an even longer pedigree and still builds in gcc. And while Common Lisp has seen a lot more library evolution, I believe most of its early incarnations still work in modern implementations.

I suppose you're right that any given code is unlikely to outlast its dependencies. But the corrollary to that is that successful code is, by definition, almost always going to outlast its dependencies.

Dependencies are hugely expensive. And it makes me happy to see someone try to explain that to the modern world of import-happy coders. Reuse isn't free. Solving simple problems with external dependencies can often be more work than it's worth.


"How much more reliable and permanent is the code you own and manage yourself?"

Even with the worst bugs I can use and reverse engineer the oldest API if it runs on my own hardware. I can turn on and access my Amiga 500, or my Apple II "APIs". There are uncountable companies running legacy software, just sometimes they need to reboot the machines or "play" a known trick to continue working.




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