APIs – Easy Come, Easy Go

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LinkedInAPIThe sphere has been abuzz over the breakup of LinkedIn and Twitter. Perhaps LinkedIn isn’t happy to have the API rug pulled from under their feet, but it does look like the same sort of explanation that LinkedIn itself offered when others have made use of its API!

So let’s have a look…

LinkedIn -> Twitter

It seems that as twitter added features, they weren’t showing up on the LinkedIn side. I’d imagine some conversations took place around the lines of “Hey – when are you going to get those going?” to which the reply must not have been as satisfying as Twitter wanted.

And in most API games, if you don’t follow the rules of the API maker, you get shut out.

Outsiders -> LinkedIn

And when outsiders like Branchout started using LinkedIn’s API to extend the connection shpere, LinkedIn did exactly the same thing. I believe the conversation probably went along the lines of “It looks like you’re doing X in violation of the API terms, when are you going to stop?” Followed up with access chopped off when the answer wasn’t sufficient…

I considered a LinkedIn app…

And it might not be much of a surprise to reveal that I was drawing up a very nice LinkedIn widget – in conjunction with a couple local business connections.

But in my own diligence, I found that LinkedIn’s API terms were quite restrictive.

I could get around the very limited number of calls per day, but I couldn’t make a useful application without being able to store some data that came off the LinkedIn site. And even if I could, I couldn’t predict that LinkedIn would or wouldn’t enter that marketplace, and you can’t have an outside widget that competes with a LinkedIn product…

We sent off a note asking for permission (because that’s what the LinkedIn API says to do if you’d like to go beyond the basic API), but it was met with the same response that most LinkedIn inquiries get – silence.

When image isn’t everything

And so I consider LinkedIn’s API a PR stunt that was attempting to make it look like the company was open to collaboration when in reality it was giving out nothing but Tinkertoy pieces that while useful for an afternoon of games aren’t necessarily great for building a business product on.

For an additional slant on the API issue, you might check out Matt Asay’s article on API Hedging here.

To your continued success,

steve

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