Challenges in Enterprise Application Development: API Governance, Logging, and Exception Handling

Amit Anand
8 min readJul 3, 2023

Abstract:

Enterprise application development faces challenges in integrating diverse services with varying data formats and messaging structures. This leads to integration difficulties, longer development cycles, and potential disruptions. This paper emphasizes the significance of API governance, a well-defined messaging structure, robust logging practices, and effective exception handling to overcome these challenges and ensure reliable and resilient enterprise applications.

1. Introduction

Enterprise application development has become increasingly complex, involving multiple services, systems, and teams. In this context, the lack of standardized data formats and messaging structures can hinder seamless integration and impede development efforts. Additionally, inadequate logging practices and exception handling can result in poor visibility into application behavior and difficulties in diagnosing and resolving issues. This white paper examines the challenges enterprises face in these areas and highlights the significance of API governance, well-defined messaging structures, robust logging practices, and effective exception handling to overcome these challenges successfully and build reliable and resilient enterprise applications.

2. Challenges in Enterprise Application Development

2.1 Diverse Data Formats

Enterprises often deal with various data formats, making it difficult to exchange information between services seamlessly. Inconsistent data formats can result in integration errors, data loss, and interoperability issues. Standardizing data formats and implementing data transformation mechanisms can help address these challenges.

Some of the well-known formats are as below

list of well-known formats

It would also enable the developer to quickly adapt to the new project, saving handsome time on training, and lesser time in finding the issues.

2.2 Messaging Incompatibility

Misaligned messaging structures among services can lead to communication failures, delays, and system disruptions. Without a common language for service interaction, understanding and integrating with different services becomes challenging. Implementing a well-defined messaging structure, such as using standard message formats and protocols, can promote interoperability and streamline communication.

2.3 Inadequate Logging Practices

Insufficient logging practices hinder effective application monitoring, troubleshooting, and debugging. Incomplete or inconsistent logs make it challenging to identify and diagnose issues, resulting in prolonged downtime and increased maintenance efforts. Implementing comprehensive and standardized logging practices, including appropriate log levels, timestamps, and contextual information, improves visibility into application behavior and facilitates efficient issue resolution.

2.3 Insufficient Exception Handling

Lack of proper exception handling can lead to unhandled errors, application crashes, and compromised system stability. Inadequate error handling can result in poor user experience, data inconsistencies, and security vulnerabilities. Implementing robust exception-handling mechanisms, such as catching and handling exceptions gracefully, enables better error management, improves application reliability, and enhances overall system resilience.

3. The Role of API Governance

3.1 Standardization and Consistency

API governance establishes guidelines, standards, and best practices to ensure consistency across services. Defining common data structures, naming conventions, and message schemas enable services to communicate effectively, regardless of their underlying technologies. It promotes interoperability, simplifies integration, and reduces the likelihood of errors caused by incompatible data formats.

3.2 API Documentation and Discovery

A well-governed API ecosystem includes comprehensive and up-to-date documentation. Centralized API catalogs facilitate discovery, allowing developers to understand the capabilities, data formats, and endpoints of each service. Clear and accessible documentation helps developers consume APIs correctly and reduces the time and effort required for integration.

3.3 Versioning and Compatibility

API governance includes versioning strategies to manage backward compatibility and avoid breaking changes. Consistent versioning enables services to evolve independently while ensuring smooth integration between different versions. By adopting versioning practices, enterprises can effectively manage changes and updates to APIs, minimizing disruptions and maintaining compatibility with existing integrations.

4. Managing a Well-Defined Messaging Structure

4.1 Message Formats and Protocols

Implementing a standardized messaging structure, encompassing formats like JSON, XML, msgpack, BSON, and YML, simplifies integration and fosters interoperability among diverse services. By defining protocols such as REST or message queues, enterprises can establish consistent communication patterns and reduce complexities associated with integration. Adopting these well-defined message formats and protocols enables enterprises to streamline service interactions, ensuring smooth and seamless data exchange.

sample messages in json for GET

JSON

{
"ver": "1.0",
"t": "user",
"data": {
"id": 1,
"name": "A A",
"email": "user@company.com"
},
"meta": {
"timestamp": "2023-06-28T09:30:00Z",
"server": "srv1001.company.com",
"traceid": "625fcbaa5118c815ab2b64fb",
"msg": "success"
}
}

YML

ver: "1.0"
t: "user"
data:
id: 1
name: "A A"
email: "user@company.com"
meta:
timestamp: "2023-06-28T09:30:00Z"
server: "srv1001.company.com"
traceid: "625fcbaa5118c815ab2b64fb"
msg: "success"

msgpack

\x82\xa3ver\xa32.0\xa1t\xa44user\xa4data\x81\xa2id\x01\xa4name\xa3A A\xa5email\xabuser@company.com\xa4meta\x84\x89\timestamp\xa82023-06-28T09:30:00Z\x06\x06\x06\xabserver\xafsrv1001.company.com\xa7traceid\xb0625fcbaa5118c815ab2b64fb\xa3msg\xa7success

XML

<root>
<ver>1.0</ver>
<t>user</t>
<data>
<id>1</id>
<name>A A</name>
<email>johndoe@example.com</email>
</data>
<meta>
<timestamp>2023-06-28T09:30:00Z</timestamp>
<server>api.example.com</server>
<traceid>625fcbaa5118c815ab2b64fb</traceid>
<msg>success</msg>
</meta>
</root>
  • ver: Represents the version number of the API response format. It can be useful for backward compatibility and tracking changes in the response structure.
  • t: is type and tells about what this message is about.
  • data: Holds the actual data payload of the response, specific to the API endpoint being called.
  • meta: Provides additional metadata about the response, such as the timestamp of the response generation and the server that handled the request, traceid to trace the request.

sample messages in json for GET for any error

{
"ver": "1.0",
"t": "user_err",
"error": {
"code": "access_denied",
"message": "You do not have permission to access this resource."
},
"metadata": {
"timestamp": "2023-06-28T09:45:00Z",
"server": "api.example.com",
"traceid": "625fcbaa5118c815ab2b64fb"
}
  • ver: Represents the version number of the API response format. It can be useful for backward compatibility and tracking changes in the response structure.
  • t: is type and tells about what these message about.
  • error: field provides additional details about the error, including an error code and a descriptive message
  • meta: Provides additional metadata about the response, such as the timestamp of the response generation and the server that handled the request, traceid to trace the request.

4.2 Central Repository for well-known artifacts

Well-known artifacts, such as shipment or accounting data structures, should maintain a consistent structure across systems. Implementing a central repository for these artifacts ensures uniformity and enables efficient integration between services.

4.3 Library of all well-known languages for message parsing and validation

Having a library from the API governance team that handles message parsing and validation for different programming languages simplifies integration efforts. Developers can leverage these libraries to parse and validate API messages, saving time and resources.

5. Robust Logging Practices

5.1 Log Formats and Contextual Information

Effective logging practices play a crucial role in understanding application behavior and diagnosing issues. Log formats should include essential information such as timestamps, log levels, request IDs, application and server identifiers, component and subcomponent details, and meaningful messages. Including contextual information in logs enables efficient log analysis, troubleshooting, and system monitoring.

There are multiple type of application and requirement of application. In this scope we cover mainly web application server and application server

5.1.1 Web Server

TBD

5.1.1 Application Server

Based on the response format, log format should contain following information

  • Timestamp
  • loglevel
  • Request ID (if any)
  • App
  • Server
  • component
  • sub component (if any)
  • meaningful message
[2023-06-28 15:30:00] [Request ID: abc123] [DEBUG] [App: MyApp] [Server: srv001] [Component: UserService] [Sub-component: Authentication] - Entered login() method. Username: 'amita'.
[2023-06-28 15:30:05] [Request ID: def456] [INFO] [App: MyApp] [Server: srv002] [Component: UserService] [Sub-component: Authentication] - User 'amita' successfully logged in.
[2023-06-28 15:30:10] [Request ID: ghi789] [WARNING] [App: MyApp] [Server: srv001] [Component: UserService] [Sub-component: PasswordManagement] - Password expiration date approaching for user 'amita'. Please update the password.
[2023-06-28 15:30:15] [Request ID: jkl012] [ERROR] [App: MyApp] [Server: srv002] [Component: UserService] [Sub-component: Database] - An unexpected error occurred while processing the request.
[2023-06-28 15:30:20] [Request ID: mno345] [CRITICAL] [App: MyApp] [Server: srv001] [Component: UserService] [Sub-component: Database] - Database connection lost. Application cannot proceed

Some sample log from sample application

[2023-06-28 16:05:55,432.432] DEBUG  main.py debug 38 [reqid: c45a3def-69d8-40d0-bc29-714013f165c3] [server: server: server: srv001] [app: app: app: monitoring-logging-sample] [component: component: component: logging demo] [subcomponent: debug]- Entered login() method. Username: "amita".
[2023-06-28 16:06:01,827.827] INFO main.py info 51 [reqid: 20b9625a-0809-446e-9d9e-a20e71a06c02] [server: server: server: server: srv001] [app: app: app: app: monitoring-logging-sample] [component: component: component: component: logging demo] [subcomponent: info]- User "amita" successfully logged in.
[2023-06-28 16:06:05,844.844] WARNING main.py warn 64 [reqid: 330cea01-5c59-4421-909d-16bce8b384fb] [server: server: server: server: server: srv001] [app: app: app: app: app: monitoring-logging-sample] [component: component: component: component: component: logging demo] [subcomponent: warn]- Password expiration date approaching for user "amita". Please update the password.
[2023-06-28 16:06:21,383.383] ERROR main.py error 77 [reqid: f16744ce-2d26-4eb7-86a9-2a1aad88f44d] [server: server: server: server: server: server: srv001] [app: app: app: app: app: app: monitoring-logging-sample] [component: component: component: component: component: component: logging demo] [subcomponent: error]- An unexpected error occurred while processing the request
[2023-06-28 16:06:25,767.767] CRITICAL main.py crtitical 90 [reqid: b5ad2372-aae8-4621-b127-49030192c594] [server: server: server: server: server: server: server: srv001] [app: app: app: app: app: app: app: monitoring-logging-sample] [component: component: component: component: component: component: component: logging demo] [subcomponent: crtitical]- Database connection lost. Application cannot procee

5.2 Exception Logging

Proper exception handling and logging provide valuable insights into application failures and error scenarios. Logging exceptions with relevant details, such as exception types, stack traces, and error messages, facilitate effective debugging and issue resolution. Exception logging helps identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities, improving overall application stability and security.

Exception handling should have approach even before user reports some issue. it should be tracked and logged

An opensource system like sentry can be used to handle this. It has a plugin for nearly all major languages and frameworks.

It’s just a plug and play can be enabled without much effort.

Few samples

Fast API

from fastapi import FastAPI
import sentry_sdk

sentry_sdk.init(
dsn="https://<key>@sentry.company.com/<project>",
# Set traces_sample_rate to 1.0 to capture 100%
# of transactions for performance monitoring.
# We recommend adjusting this value in production,
traces_sample_rate=1.0,
# If you wish to associate users to errors (assuming you are using
# django.contrib.auth) you may enable sending PII data.
send_default_pii=True,
)
app = FastAPI()

VUEJS

import { createApp } from "vue";
import * as Sentry from "@sentry/vue";
const app = createApp({
// ...
});
Sentry.init({
app,
dsn: "https://<key>@sentry.company.com/<project>"",
});
app.mount("#app")

SPRING BOOT

Add sentry sdk

<dependency>
<groupId>io.sentry</groupId>
<artifactId>sentry-spring-boot-starter</artifactId>
<version>6.24.0</version>
</dependency>

update your application.properties

sentry.dsn=https://<key>@sentry.io/<project>

Sentry supports around 109 platforms

6. Conclusion

Enterprise application development in the dynamic business environment demands effective strategies to mitigate challenges arising from diverse data formats, messaging structures, application behavior, and error handling. API governance, well-defined messaging structures, robust logging practices, and comprehensive exception-handling techniques play crucial roles in building reliable, resilient, and efficient enterprise applications. By adopting these practices, enterprises can ensure seamless integration, better visibility into application behavior, timely resolution of issues, and enhanced system stability, ultimately driving business agility, customer satisfaction, and operational excellence.

7. Sample Application

A Python sample application based on Fastapi is available here

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