Recent Tesco API downtime

A couple of weeks ago I decided to jump back into my project My Shopping Assistant which uses the Tesco API to wrap the idea of packages around grocery shopping. Unfortunately about a week ago the Tesco API went offline, great timing hu! Just as I was trying to get people to use the alpha!

I immediately notified Nick at Tesco via Twitter and email, unfortunately he was away on holiday and I had nobody else to contact. I did eventually get a reply from him with the contact details of someone else at Tesco to contact. I did contact him, via email and Twitter but to this day I have not had a response from him.

Nick is now back from holiday and has looked into the issues. The API is back online however the ability to register for a new API account has been disabled and all past accounts have been deactivated. So if you have registered for a developer key in the past and your still having problems connecting, even though the Tesco API Health page is reporting everything is ok, thats why. You are probably getting errors retunred like ‘Service problem when API tried to access developer portal for authorisation – result returned was:’.

If you visit the main Tesco API Developers Portal you will see an updated message (3rd Sep 2012). Registration for new developer keys is still disabled however if you have already registered for a key then you can email your developers key (NOT your application keys) to nick@lansley.com and your keys will probably be cross referenced with the log files to make sure you have not been abusing the API and if your truly committed to innovation then I am assuming your developers key will be re-enabled. I have done this but have not had a reply yet and my developers key has been reactivated! Yay!

My understanding is that someone (who needs a slap) has been using the API for things that are against the Terms and Conditions. This has resulted in really por performance from the servers which run the API and eventually has caused an error in one of the system files and taken the server offline.

I had noticed that the API was running quite slow when I was testing it recently so I hope that this crack down and performance monitoring will help my app run even faster with faster response times from the API. I also welcome the introduction of a less open access policy to the API. Before you were able to go to the portal, register for an account and you would receive a developers key in a matter of seconds that would allow you access to the API. There are certain things that you are not allowed to do with the API but from reading certain posts online it is obvious that people are using the API for things that would be frowned upon and also which will be effecting the performance for people like me who are using it how it is meant to be used. I hope that they stick with a locked down application process and request a little more valuation and maybe vet the applicants and their ideas before they give out keys in the future.

I am currently working with a company working with them to implement the Tesco API into their product. It has taken me a while to convince them that the API is stable and that it will be around in the future. The recent downtime means that my reputation has taken a hit, I don’t blame Tesco directly, I blame the individuals who have been abusing the API. I do, however, think that Tesco need to take the API a little more seriously and maybe dedicate a little more resource to it.

Nick Lansley has done an awesome job of getting the API to where it is today. He has also done a great job of supporting me, as a developer, since I have started to use the API. The T-jam event was a great thing for Tesco to put on for developers. There has been talk of a Tesco Public API Version 2? There has been talk of another T-jam event…. I know Nick is busy and as far as R&D it’s probably reached the end…. but what now? Please don’t forget about us!

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