Zappographic!

Submitted by on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 15:32

Almost exactly a year ago, our Zappos API was born! We've watched it crawl, walk, then run at full speed- it brings a tear to our eyes to realize how quickly it's growing up. :*) In honor of its belated birthday, we've decided to jump on the bandwagon and create an infographic - I mean, Zappographic -that offers a peek into some interesting tidbits about our API. (A special thanks to Erin from our Visual Design team for putting this together!)

Pretty sweet, yeah? :)

Looking back, our first year was definitely about hammering out the basics of the API. We built the infrastructure from the ground up and created the security pieces all in-house. The driving goal for the year was to “Imagine that you have to build Zappos.com all over again-- but this time, completely powered by the API”. This wasn’t just a theoretical situation; it quickly became reality as our Mobile team was kicked into gear. Our teams worked hand-in-hand for the latter half of the year to make this goal a reality. We wanted to make sure we provided just as awesome of a Zappos experience on the iPad/iPhone & Android apps as we have on our traditional Zappos.com website. Though our immediate goal was to power the mobile apps, the code we churned out also created more and more features for the rest of the community to start using as well.

By the end of 2010, we reached our goals and the mobile apps started rolling out in full gear!

We also started to turn on more features on the website that were powered by the API, such as our many landing pages and Zappos VIP Points. Some of our more recent fun API-fueled website goodies include Rapid Order Lookie Lou, Perpetual Cart, and Quickview... *phew*!

So now that we were pretty up to par with the website, what was next? Moar infrastructure! We set aside a few months fully dedicated to infrastructure rework during our “code freeze” time of the year. While we were cranking out new APIs earlier that year, there were some pain points that our development team felt along the way. We wanted to take a moment to breathe, step back, learn, and fix some of our less-than-perfect design decisions. It was an investment that we decided to make, and though it nearly brought us to tears at some points, we all came out of it agreeing that it was the right thing to do. As a result, we now have cleaner code, more reliable JSON output, faster serialization, and a great step towards other interesting features to turn on in the future. For example, one of the internal libraries that we integrated will allow us to do sweet things like easily serialize our responses into different formats, create WADLs, and generate auto-documentation. Yes, we are now in fact harder, better, faster, stronger!

As we start our 2nd year, our mission has slightly shifted. Now that we’re no longer in “catch up” mode, this gives us a little more freedom to start working on some cool new features from the ground up, rather than just working on exposing features that already exist. The Statistics API from last year is a great example of this – the project was driven 100% from within the API team, and we've seen some great features created out of it (cough Seesmic plugin and Mappos!). Some future features we’ve thrown around so far include affiliate support, a new scoring system for rating nearly anything, expanding our Stats API, a recommendation API... the possibilities are endless! We've gotten some great suggestions so far from our developers, so if there's any idea that you have for us, even if you're blue-sky-ing, just throw them out there. We just might grant your wish!

Customer service is at the core of Zappos values. For us on the Zappos API team, we want to make sure that we extend customer service not only to the end user, but to all of our external developers and partners as well. We want to be on top of responding to your questions on our Google group, providing support during your hackathons, and listening to any suggestions along the way. If there's anything else that we could do to WOW you, please feel free to reach out to us… we'd love to hear from you!

- Mama API

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