Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How To Fail At Upload APIs

Youtube, what the hell is up with your upload APIs? Here we are, hacking along and being all "Hey, we got accounts syncing and thumbnails popping up and videos getting attached to blog posts and its nifty-pie, oh yeah." when we make the move to be even more web 2.0y and add full authentication with youtube accounts and integrate the full upload cycle into the media selection. We take some little video upload tests and we're happy about that. Oh, that was a nice milestone to hit in FogBugz, I tell you what.

The week passes and suddenly I'm asked why all the video uploads keep failing. All the usual things are checked, but the upload tokens validate and the headers are correct. All our tests are within the upload limits, too. These aren't friendly "Hey, I really hate to tell you this, but the video you just uploaded didn't go so well. Can you try it again in a bit? Thanks"-errors, either. These are "Fuck off. I just reset your HTTP connection, bitch"-errors. Other times, we get 502 Bad Gateway from Youtube's servers and that isn't the kind of nice error you expect from a professional service like that. With the errors happening on the client browser, I'm left with nothing to do by way of responding nicely. Our own machines never get a single byte from Youtube on the matter, much less the nicely formatted response-requests they promise to use to tell us all about the sucess or failure of the uploads we set our users up with.

What gives with the weird error and what gives with they not being nicer about it?

Through support forums our problem is matched up not with some obscure thing, but to many, many posts. It seems like everyone and their dog gets reset connections and 502 errors during uploads. At this point, I'm absolutely questioning that Youtube was ready to release this part of the API when they did, because it is obviously not mature. Now, I happen to know it on good authority that some people do upload videos to Youtube, from time to time. You know, with that little uploader they wrote called The Youtube Site Itself. So, the theories I have is that they either aren't eating their own dogfood or their own uploader is doing smart-ish upload resuming when their internal upload API chokes on them constantly. In the end, I have to ask, "What gives?"

Apparently, according to support responses and our own tests, if you upload to uploads2.gdata.youtube.com instead of uploads.gdata.youtube.com, it works fine. This is their "new upload system", but what does that mean? The API is completely identical, so does "new upload system" mean a new specific set of boxes that handle uploads? Specific boxes doesn't seem very cloud-like for Google, don't you agree? Well, i

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I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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