api March 31, 2010

Stack Overflow API Private Beta Starts

If there’s some kind of award for longest running user request, it has to be this one: When will you guys have an API? One of our new year goals for 2010 is to build and release a great API — for all the trilogy sites. Over the last month, API work has been our…
Avatar for Jeff Atwood
Co-Founder (Former)

If there’s some kind of award for longest running user request, it has to be this one:

When will you guys have an API?

One of our new year goals for 2010 is to build and release a great API — for all the trilogy sites.

Over the last month, API work has been our highest priority. Now we’re finally ready for private beta. We realize that getting an API right is challenging, and we would like “friends of the Trilogy” to begin giving us input on how our API should look and function.

If you’d like to participate in this private beta, email us at team@stackoverflow.com.

The private API beta should last 6 to 8 weeks. We absolutely do not want to rush our API because once we release it, we will have to live with the consequences of those decisions for years. Perfection is obviously impossible, but I’ll settle for “avoided too many harebrained screwups … this time”.

As John Resig said in his MIX 10 talk,

Be deliberate about the quality of your API design or you will regret it later.

That’s the goal here. To be deliberate. And we can’t do it alone — our API exists to serve you, so we need your help to make it … not suck.

But fair warning — this is a private beta for a reason:

  1. Version 1 is read only. Coming up with a solid API is hard enough without adding writing and authentication to the mix. So for the initial release, it’s a read-only API. We’ll take on the much more difficult problem of writing (and authentication) in v2.

  2. We reserve the right to break the API every day. The private beta is our one shining moment to construct our API “the right way” with your feedback. So expect lots and lots of breakage. But it’s breakage to make it better.

  3. If you build to our API, we will support you. We will be ultra responsive to your feedback during this private beta. And once the API is released, we vow to support version 1.0 of the API for a long time — and if there is a version 2.0, it will be supported in parallel with 1.0 for as long as we can. We’re honored you would write code against our API and we plan to return the favor by not breaking your code a year down the line.

If you have any interest at all in our API — you’re welcome to join the private beta! Just email us at team@stackoverflow.com and request access.

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