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Geocaching API


-Jamz-
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But you are still misunderstanding. That post by Jeremy is the only public information you are going to find. It's private and he doesn't have any plans to release it to the public. But contacting Groundspeak is the only way to get information about it. But don't hold your breath because it's doubtful that any individual will be considered "a trusted partner".
I beg to differ, lots of millionaire individuals out there. The api is about cash! and caches too - but CASH will talk!
what a cheap shot. Nothing was mentioned about who the trusted partners are and no mention that for the right price access can be bought.
Cheap, how so Jim? I simply was saying that if some rich individual wanted to play - the money they have would be a good tool to allow them to be trusted. The old saying about money talks. If that is cheap then you changed the meaning of cheap.

 

My premise stands.

I would violate the TOU of the forum if I expressed my views. Lets just say it seems from your comments you never met Jeremy in person.
NO I have not, but I have read his words and seen him use words like "done in spite" (on this forum) in what he did in the beginning, so that has influenced my thinking. I have been saying some strong things about GS on some other threads as of late so perhaps I just shud up about it all eh? But the reality is the reality.

 

I repent, I shall not say another word against the business model of GS till I meet than man myself. If I was not sick from chemo treatment I am in the middle of right now I would not even be on the forums but out in the woods.

 

Jim, thank you. I will be quiet about it I promise, but it so hard because so many threads around here seem to prod one into being negative and critical.

 

Okay?

The only thing that can prod a person to be negative, is that person. Edited by sbell111
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(snip) The only thing that can prod a person to be negative, is that person.

 

I am not too sure about that sbell. People have strong influences over other people. Our actions do effect people. I want mine to be for good around here from now on! :unsure:

 

Edit: typo

Edited by Frank Broughton
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I would like to add my name to the list of people who would love an open geocaching API. Think of all the mobile apps, twitter mash-ups, mapping widgets that would become available if everybody had access to the API...

 

Think about all the server loads and resultant maintenance down times and website times outs that can occur if the API was available to everyone. Won't it be wonderful?!?

 

Why don't all the people bawwing over no public API use the tools that are available to us now? Or am I the only person here who uses PQ's and CacheStats to keep track of their stats? If GS doesn't want to take their API public and has said so, then discussion about bugging them to make it so is moot.

 

Move along, nothing more to see here.

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I would like to add my name to the list of people who would love an open geocaching API. Think of all the mobile apps, twitter mash-ups, mapping widgets that would become available if everybody had access to the API...

 

Think about all the server loads and resultant maintenance down times and website times outs that can occur if the API was available to everyone. Won't it be wonderful?!?

 

Why don't all the people bawwing over no public API use the tools that are available to us now? Or am I the only person here who uses PQ's and CacheStats to keep track of their stats? If GS doesn't want to take their API public and has said so, then discussion about bugging them to make it so is moot.

 

Move along, nothing more to see here.

 

Oh come on! It's 2009, for pity's sake. Google App engine offers a scalable architecture to service as many third party apps as anybody could dream up.

 

As for clunky old PQs; they really are just so dadgum cumbersome. I want something that can dynamically query the live cache DB, and log my new finds on the fly.

 

Geocaching.com wouldn't be what it is today without the public hiding and finding geocaches all over the world; why not just open it up to them?

 

Otherwise, it would not surprise me if a truly open and free alternative were to rise up. Hmm, I note opengeocaching.com has already been taken...

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As for clunky old PQs; they really are just so dadgum cumbersome. I want something that can dynamically query the live cache DB, and log my new finds on the fly.

 

 

Have you looked at iPhone. Does it all.

 

Jim

 

Why restrict it to iPhone? There are plenty of perfectly capable devices out there, with plenty of perfectly capable developers positively aching to write great geocaching apps; they are all being stifled and silenced.

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I am not sure about the arguments, and do not know the technical specifics, but I would like to weigh in with my vote:

 

Having an expiration date on the free memberships = BAD

 

Current cost of Premium Membership = EXTREMELY REASONABLE

 

If there was an app for my Verizon BlackBerry Storm or Palm Treo650 = PRICELESS!!!

 

(I don't want to leave Verizon, and don't want an I-Phone)

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As for clunky old PQs; they really are just so dadgum cumbersome. I want something that can dynamically query the live cache DB, and log my new finds on the fly.

 

 

Have you looked at iPhone. Does it all.

 

Jim

 

Why restrict it to iPhone? There are plenty of perfectly capable devices out there, with plenty of perfectly capable developers positively aching to write great geocaching apps; they are all being stifled and silenced.

The iPhone and iPod Touch is about the only thing that is smokin'-hot at this point. There is a program for Blackberry. There is also a Trimble application that works on many types of smart phones. A friend of mine has a Boost phone and all she uses it for is to find geocaches.

 

Groundspeak has shown that if people write innovative programs that they will not only accept them, they will also promote them for free! They have seen that the iPhone type device is the wave of the future and have not only embraced the technology, they have hired developers to write a program specifically for it! Each update makes it better and better. There are a couple of other iPhone and iPod Touch apps as well if you would look.

 

I don't blame Groundspeak for controlling access to their site though. They are a business and they want to make money. There already is an opencaching site. It has 24,000 active caches compared to this site's 800,000 active caches. Sounds like running a geocaching site like a business might be a smart idea.

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As for clunky old PQs; they really are just so dadgum cumbersome. I want something that can dynamically query the live cache DB, and log my new finds on the fly.

 

 

Have you looked at iPhone. Does it all.

 

Jim

 

Why restrict it to iPhone? There are plenty of perfectly capable devices out there, with plenty of perfectly capable developers positively aching to write great geocaching apps; they are all being stifled and silenced.

The iPhone and iPod Touch is about the only thing that is smokin'-hot at this point.

 

Nonsense!

 

There is a program for Blackberry. There is also a Trimble application that works on many types of smart phones. A friend of mine has a Boost phone and all she uses it for is to find geocaches.

 

Groundspeak has shown that if people write innovative programs that they will not only accept them, they will also promote them for free! They have seen that the iPhone type device is the wave of the future and have not only embraced the technology, they have hired developers to write a program specifically for it! Each update makes it better and better. There are a couple of other iPhone and iPod Touch apps as well if you would look.

 

I don't blame Groundspeak for controlling access to their site though. They are a business and they want to make money. There already is an opencaching site. It has 24,000 active caches compared to this site's 800,000 active caches. Sounds like running a geocaching site like a business might be a smart idea.

 

But nobody can write these innovative programs because the APIs aren't open! Why is running it like a business such a good idea? The owner is making money out of everybody else's generosity in creating all these caches. Why should one person have the overall right to all that data? It should be free to all the people who created it.

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GC's back end has trouble staying up on the load it has now. The choice of language the backend has been written on has been question before. The backend code was never made to scale and you see the results from that with slow PQ's and server downtime. There is not the server power available to even consider a open API yet.

 

The power of open API's in promoting a website has been shown time after time. If GC wanted to dramatically increase it's exposure to the outside world a open API would be the way to do it by getting some of the momentum being generated by websites like twitter and facebook. It would also open new revenue streams for GC. Problem is they have a revenue stream they are protecting.

 

On another thought. Imaging the cool side games that could be generated with the help of a open API, Clues for other caches could be unlocked only when a user has completed a set of different caches or reached a number of caches and so on. Bonus can be added for Moving a coin / bug XXX distance. The ideas go on and on. And stats, so many nice stats plastered over 1000's of other website forums exposing more and more people to GC.

 

/me dreams about the potential of a open API...

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GC's back end has trouble staying up on the load it has now. The choice of language the backend has been written on has been question before. The backend code was never made to scale and you see the results from that with slow PQ's and server downtime. There is not the server power available to even consider a open API yet.

 

The power of open API's in promoting a website has been shown time after time. If GC wanted to dramatically increase it's exposure to the outside world a open API would be the way to do it by getting some of the momentum being generated by websites like twitter and facebook. It would also open new revenue streams for GC. Problem is they have a revenue stream they are protecting.

 

On another thought. Imaging the cool side games that could be generated with the help of a open API, Clues for other caches could be unlocked only when a user has completed a set of different caches or reached a number of caches and so on. Bonus can be added for Moving a coin / bug XXX distance. The ideas go on and on. And stats, so many nice stats plastered over 1000's of other website forums exposing more and more people to GC.

 

/me dreams about the potential of a open API...

 

Indeed. The server load and bandwidth cost problems that opening the API would bring, will be encountered at some point anyway as geocaching continues to grow.

 

And absolutely opening the API would bring many side games, in short, more fun ways to enjoy and play the game!

 

I wonder what is that free caching site a poster above mentioned; I can't find it.

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Getting my Palm Pre today. Would love to write a Geocaching app for it.

 

If the apps are done correctly, the load on the server would go down. Browsing for caches would be the same load as in a browser or on a mobile device. The user chooses the caches they are interested in and you sync all of the data to the device. In the field you use your locally cached data and mark the geocache found or any notes. You sync everything back to GC.com at some point.

 

The API should also allow the devs to pull GC.com advertisements so they can be displayed in the app. The apps should definitely not revenue starve the site.

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Why is running it like a business such a good idea? The owner is making money out of everybody else's generosity in creating all these caches. Why should one person have the overall right to all that data? It should be free to all the people who created it.

 

Maybe we should nationalize it? Have the federal government buy them out with money from China and run it for free for you! Sounds like a plan to me...... :)

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Maybe we should nationalize it? Have the federal government buy them out with money from China and run it for free for you! Sounds like a plan to me...... :)

 

I realize your joking however a business case could be made for opening up more, similar to a Wikipedia and/or Redhat model (yes I know Wikipedia is non-profit).

 

See http://oreilly.com/catalog/opensources/book/young.html

for one of the best arguments for staying in business while giving away your data.

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Maybe we should nationalize it? Have the federal government buy them out with money from China and run it for free for you! Sounds like a plan to me...... :)

 

I realize your joking however a business case could be made for opening up more, similar to a Wikipedia and/or Redhat model (yes I know Wikipedia is non-profit).

 

See http://oreilly.com/catalog/opensources/book/young.html

for one of the best arguments for staying in business while giving away your data.

Spoken like someone's who's not been around long enough to remember the disaster that was opencaching.com. :D I was tempted to use the phrase "crash and burn", but something actually requires at least a little momentum in order to crash. Maybe if they hadn't spent two months deciding on what font to use...

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Maybe we should nationalize it? Have the federal government buy them out with money from China and run it for free for you! Sounds like a plan to me...... :)

 

I realize your joking however a business case could be made for opening up more, similar to a Wikipedia and/or Redhat model (yes I know Wikipedia is non-profit).

 

See http://oreilly.com/catalog/opensources/book/young.html

for one of the best arguments for staying in business while giving away your data.

Spoken like someone's who's not been around long enough to remember the disaster that was opencaching.com. :D I was tempted to use the phrase "crash and burn", but something actually requires at least a little momentum in order to crash. Maybe if they hadn't spent two months deciding on what font to use...

 

Around geocaching.com very long? No not really. I joined in 2005, but just started getting into it the past few months. Around the internet, and open source projects? I that realm I have a little more experience. I've been the senior technologist (Dir of IT, CTO, CIO, whatever you want to call me) for over 15 years. I've taken two companies public and was instrumental in having three others be acquired. I'm not saying this to brag I'm only mentioning it to make it clear I'm not a kid and no idealist. I don't know anything about opencaching.com but since I've never heard of it I'll assume they failed. They could have failed for any number of reasons, bad timing, bad luck, no clear revenue plan, inexperienced management. A lot of open source companies have failed, but no more then organizations based on proprietary business models. Personally I'm a little surprised by the mentality of Groundspeak regarding development partnerships. The way they work seems very short sighted, and I really hope they realize the pitfalls of the decisions they're making. I say this mostly because I don't think the caching enthusiast audience is big enough to support fragmentation, however if they keep putting up hurtles someone is going to get fed up enough to try.

 

One last though (sorry I'm on a role) regarding opencaching.com. When I was a kid I was a big fan of the Roadrunner cartoons . I always wondered what would have happened if Wile E. Coyote stuck to one invention and kept refining it. Failure of one attempt is just a test for when you get it right.

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however if they keep putting up hurtles someone is going to get fed up enough to try.

Boy, you lost me on that one. With all the big stuff you were throwing out that you have done, to say hurtles instead of hurdles sort of lost me and makes me wonder. At 24 I had my own company for a few years and five to six employees. Big deal. I ran hurdles in high school and college. Won state my senior year. Never got to hurtle a javelin though. Would have been fun. But I digress.

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I too dropped in on this thread after doing a Google search for "geocaching api" and feel the need to weigh in... I am completely aware this has been discussed ad-nauseum and that the Groundspeak owners (and perhaps many cachers who have systems that work for them) don't seem to care.

 

I have been Geocaching for about a year and a half and do not (nor plan to) own an iPhone. What brought me to geocaching was the marriage of high technology (GPS and web) and the distinctively low-tech of walking around finding things. I often don't plan on geocaching. When I get a few minutes free, I want to look around and see what caches are near by and go on a hunt. This can happen anywhere. Sometimes I am near my normal haunts (home, work and Fry's Electronics) and other times I'm in some random location.

 

The standard responses I see to the discussions about a public API are either:

  1. Get an iPhone, it does everything you want
  2. You can do that with Pocket Queries
  3. Opening up the API would swamp the already loaded GC servers
  4. Groundspeak is trying to make money off this and need to control access to the interface

What all of these arguments seem to miss is the tremendous opportunity that is lost in not allowing other developers to build modern applications built on the same access model that is used by the iPhone app and the website itself. I am talking about free development and marketing labor that is taken on by those who develop and promote their own GC applications. I am talking about people who are passionate about improving the geocaching experience but are hamstrung by the lack of API.

 

I do not believe Groundspeak should be in the business of writing client applications. Does any iPhone app user really care that the app was written by Groundspeak? They just care that it does everything they want and that it is reliable. Groundspeak's business is the data and the community that surround this hobby. To grow their business (assuming that is the goal) they want to do everything they can to encourage more paying customers. The current business model is to either charge annual membership fees for access to "premium" services or to charge a fee for the iPhone client. I maintain that access to the GC data using a modern interface should be part of their service and will benefit GC and the community in the short term.

 

The GC website is a model of both good and bad interface design in the same place and I am happy to support its continued improvement through my premium membership fees. That said the "premium" Pocket Query model was designed for a world in which our GPS devices are separate from our computers. It is now (or very soon will be) more common for someone to have a GPSr in their phone or netbook directly connected to the network than for someone to have a dedicated GPSr device. The pocket query model, while still quite useful for some purposes, is no longer a truly modern feature and, as the only approved way to get access to GC data, shows its age.

 

If you look at any of the recent big successes in the web sector (e.g. Twitter, Netflix or Facebook) their businesses jumped as soon as they published a public API. They got themselves out of the business of creating client software (other than their web interface) and allowed the developer market to take care of itself. In all cases, they continued to maintain control of their data through access controls built into the API. Groundspeak could choose to go this route (possibly charging a premium or requiring premium membership to access data with the API) and focus their development energy on a well-designed API and making sure the server infrastructure can handle the load.

 

What saddens me is that the geocaching experience, which is built on technology and a strong volunteer community, seems to be held hostage by a restrictive access policy. This hobby and the way each of us experience it is a uniquely personal thing and it seems strange that we should be limited in that experience by the relatively few client options we have. I do not fault the Groundspeak owners for making the decisions they have but I do not agree with them. An open API (with appropriate access control) would grow the community and make the caching experience better for all users rather than focusing on the limited market of one phone device.

 

-rob

Edited by grenoble
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I'm surprised at all the neoluddites who are unable to grasp the concept of moving technology, open source development and the benefits thereof.

 

Whilst they're still using IE 7/8 and the whole web has moved on beyond HTML 5 onto something even more interactive.. what are they gonna do?

 

FWIW I already have a piece of software installed on my machine that reads the information served up by Groundspeak, scrapes the documents directly, interprets it and then puts it into a human readable format on my screen..... it's called a web-browser, but it can be awfully cumbersome and slow sometimes - loading all those unnecessary images and such.

 

Are we so sure that an API would actually increase load on the servers? When you take away the web-browser interface into something more streamlined and automated, I should have thought that would actually decrease load on the servers.

 

But what do I know... of course innovation and progress are bywords for "of the devil" and should be avoided at all costs right?

 

Whatever Groundspeak want to do with the API, that's up to them, I'll still be caching but I don't buy that it's to do with server load - I also don't buy someone stealing their database - the one stealing would still suffer tremendous lag as they downloaded every cache published. They would probably never get round to having a full alternative copy of geocaching.com, it wouldn't hurt Groundspeak at all - heck all they'd need is to do is add them to their IP blocklist.

 

Oh if your worried about your cache page getting public, well it already is. I can download all the information I need on your cache with my aforementioned software that I use.

Edited by _TeamFitz_
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As far as server load goes, I think the fear is that by allowing more queries of the form "I'm here, tell me what caches are nearby" (due to an uptick in applications with access to the API), there would be a higher demand on the servers. I'm not sure I buy it either but it is a legitimate question to ask.

 

The entire model for the geocaching experience is based on open community development and maintenance of a resource (in this case, the individual caches we place and post). It is striking that the organization that runs the web and database architecture in support of this community is so closed in its access policies to this data. It doesn't seem consistent with the spirit of the hobby.

 

-rob

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Rob, "I'm here, tell me what caches are nearby" is exactly what the iPhone app (developed and supported by Groundspeak) does. They've indicated that development for other mobile platforms is in the foreseeable future.

 

This is exactly why I don't buy the server load argument. If they can support the load of adding more platforms (e.g.: Android or WebOS) then they should be able to support the load as a result of releasing the API (and thus giving more folks access to the same functionality).

 

I am happy that Groundspeak has decided to support more platforms than just the iPhone but it doesn't inherently change the fact that their policies about access really seem to be about maintaining control over who can write apps. As users we lose because we don't gain the benefit of the innovation that all these developers are itching to provide.

Edited by grenoble
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Rob, "I'm here, tell me what caches are nearby" is exactly what the iPhone app (developed and supported by Groundspeak) does. They've indicated that development for other mobile platforms is in the foreseeable future.

 

This is exactly why I don't buy the server load argument. If they can support the load of adding more platforms (e.g.: Android or WebOS) then they should be able to support the load as a result of releasing the API (and thus giving more folks access to the same functionality).

 

I am happy that Groundspeak has decided to support more platforms than just the iPhone but it doesn't inherently change the fact that their policies about access really seem to be about maintaining control over who can write apps. As users we lose because we don't gain the benefit of the innovation that all these developers are itching to provide.

 

Flickr is an example of a service that uses a fee-based system, also. I'd argue that most who use that system are using the free system, however I think a larger portion of geocaching site users (and certainly forum users) are paying members. Flickr has an API available. They certainly don't feel like that takes away from their business of selling subscriptions. In fact, they must feel that it enhances the site in some way to be offering the API.

 

I agree that offering an API would enhance the geocaching site and only enhance membership. The server load argument is baloney. I have my own site that utilizes multiple APIs.

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... their policies about access really seem to be about maintaining control over who can write apps.
Largely correct. But to put a finer point on it: It's to control who can access Groundspeak's servers and how they do it, and to ensure that as a business, Groundspeak makes money for it. And I have no problem with that. Edited by lee_rimar
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... their policies about access really seem to be about maintaining control over who can write apps.
Largely correct. But to put a finer point on it: It's to control who can access Groundspeak's servers and how they do it, and to ensure that as a business, Groundspeak makes money for it. And I have no problem with that.

 

Neither do I. As I said in my original post, I completely agree that Groundspeak should be able to make money off their services. But, allowing open access to the API and making money are not mutually exclusive (it's "free" as in "free speech" not as in "free beer."). I also believe that a more open policy will yield more innovation in client apps, more publicity for the hobby and a larger user base for GC as a whole... meaning more money for Groundspeak.

 

Some legitimate models for access and making money might include.

  • charge app developers either a one time or per user fee
  • charge users a premium for API access
  • require app developers to (for non-premium members) display ads
  • do nothing special and expect that some people will sign up for premium membership (the same way they do with the web interface)

The only real issue is whether Groundspeak can design an API which ensures that one bad client doesn't mess up access for everyone. I am fully convinced they can and see Twitter and Facebook as models of database services (after all that's what these ultimately boil down to) with a well designed, public API.

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Cast my vote for an open API. I'm looking at trying WebOS development, and I would LOVE to try a native geocaching app for the Palm Pre. Maybe there'll be an "official" one from geocaching.com someday, maybe not. I understand being protective of your business model, but surely some kind of arrangement could be reached. Think of how many more users would get interested in geocaching if they had easy access to it on the device of their choice, and you didn't even have to expend any effort to enable those myriad devices!

 

How about issuing a token to all registered users of the API (like Amazon does), and then only allow searches within a 50 mile radius for that token in any 30 minute period (or something similar)? That way no one could ever pull enough search data to compromise your database (any more than a Pocket Query could), but it would satisfy 98% of the use cases for a mobile user (e.g. "what caches are around me?").

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First off I would like to point out that the servers would be more overloaded with people using scrapers than users w/ an API. An API would do less harm to the servers and actually decrease server load by allowing direct database access.

 

Secondly with all the memberships, ad's, geocoins, travelbugs, endorsements, etc that geocaching has already, it should generate more than enough money to make the owners filthy rich and keep the servers running.

 

I don't see why they don't listen to their users. We make geocaching what it is, after all you don't see them placing the geocaches do you? I think they should listen and make a public API.

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I agree with you entirely about the palatability of a higher membership fee and also limiting free memberships to 90 days!
How many people who only cache on a casual basis, say 4 times a year do you think would pay a yearly membership fee? I wouldn't.
This post made me check my stats. Unless I have failed to log some of my caching trips, which is somewhat possible, I have gone caching exactly four times in the last 365 days.

 

I've been busy.

I too dropped in on this thread after doing a Google search for "geocaching api" and feel the need to weigh in... I am completely aware this has been discussed ad-nauseum and that the Groundspeak owners (and perhaps many cachers who have systems that work for them) don't seem to care.
There's a rather large difference between not caring and not agreeing.
First off I would like to point out that the servers would be more overloaded with people using scrapers than users w/ an API. An API would do less harm to the servers and actually decrease server load by allowing direct database access.
Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence.

 

It should also be noted that the comparison that you drew is pointless, since scraping is a TOU violation.

Secondly with all the memberships, ad's, geocoins, travelbugs, endorsements, etc that geocaching has already, it should generate more than enough money to make the owners filthy rich and keep the servers running.
Again, you are stating something as fact when you have no idea whether it's true.
I don't see why they don't listen to their users. We make geocaching what it is, after all you don't see them placing the geocaches do you? I think they should listen and make a public API.
With some frequency, I'll have a staff member pitch an idea to me. I will always listen to the idea and consider it fully. However, I will often reject the staffer's suggestion.

 

Failing to listen and failing to agree are two separate things.

Edited by sbell111
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I agree with you entirely about the palatability of a higher membership fee and also limiting free memberships to 90 days!
How many people who only cache on a casual basis, say 4 times a year do you think would pay a yearly membership fee? I wouldn't.
This post made me check my stats. Unless I have failed to log some of my caching trips, which is somewhat possible, I have gone caching exactly four times in the last 365 days.

 

I've been busy.

 

That explains everything. We all think you need to get out and cache more.

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To the person who thinks the membership is pretty cheap - yeah it may be pretty cheap in the States, but to those of us who aren't, we have to pay in US dollars, regardless of the exchange rate at the time. A year or two ago I could easily have been paying double the membership fee! Now its more like about NZ$40-50 a year. I haven't got the credit card bill yet to know.

 

I'd hate to see something like geocaching becoming a 'pay to play' game. I haven't been in the game long, but it seems to go against the whole ethos of what geocaching is about. To me geocaching is about spending as much as you want..... or as little as you need to get out into the outdoors and have fun. How much you spend on it is determined by what you perceive as the fun part. For some its the gadgets - and getting them to do as much of the mental work to find the cache as possible, but for others its just spending that time together with your loved ones, sharing experiences. Charging would probably remove that second group from the game.

 

Back to the topic - I too would love to be able to customise an application that I can take out into the field when I go caching - but, being an IT geek myself, can see the implications of a high number of users having access to the data - and also the security risks - what if someone writes some shonky code, and creates an endless loop that crashes the server.... I've been there and done that with a database of my own that was hosted on a remote web hosting server. They were NOT happy with me - it brought down all the websites hosted on that server, not just mine! - It was their own fault really - I wasn't able to create my own local testing database because I couldn't import/export the database from their server, so I had to test remotely!

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I agree with you entirely about the palatability of a higher membership fee and also limiting free memberships to 90 days!
How many people who only cache on a casual basis, say 4 times a year do you think would pay a yearly membership fee? I wouldn't.
This post made me check my stats. Unless I have failed to log some of my caching trips, which is somewhat possible, I have gone caching exactly four times in the last 365 days.

 

I've been busy.

 

That explains everything. We all think you need to get out and cache more.

1) What does it explain?

2) Who is 'we'?

3) How did 'we' come to this conclusion?

4) Who's going to take care of my responsibilities while I am out caching?

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First off I would like to point out that the servers would be more overloaded with people using scrapers than users w/ an API. An API would do less harm to the servers and actually decrease server load by allowing direct database access.

This may or may not be true. It would depend a lot on how the API/webservice is setup. How much setup and handshaking would be needed to access the API? What limits would there be on the amount of data retrieve or the frequency at which it could be retrieved?

 

A so-called screen scrapping application could be putting less load on the site than a user with a mobile wev browser. In fact, my guess would be that most of these "unapproved" apps work exactly like a browser. They fetch a page of information from Geocaching.com and present in a format customized for the device. I don't see them as any different than the Greasemonkey scripts that several users have written for Firefox, that reformat the cache page. My guess is that Geocaching.com is unable to detect most of these apps because they appear to be simply a user hitting the site through a browser. Yet we hear that one reason that Grounspeak recently made changes to the format was to break these apps. (They broke the Greasemonkey scripts too - but at least Groundspeak acknowledges the issue with Greasemonkey scripts).

 

An API would give Groundspeak more control of these apps. They would know when an app was hitting the site instead of a browser. They might even provide a key to each app developer to know which apps were getting the most hits and could see if certain apps were less effecient at getting data and offer advice to the developers to improve the performance. An API could also be turned into an additional revenue stream by selling the API keys that would be needed to access the site. Of course that only means that there would continue to be apps that using screen scraping to avoid the need for an API key. However at that point, Groundspeak could list "approved" applications as those that access the site via the API. Other application would have to show they don't access the website (e.g. they only use data from GPX files) in order to be "approved".

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@sbell111

If API's are not efficient then why have soo many major players (ie apple, flickr, facebook, etc) have them implemented?

 

And as far as making Groundspeak money why don't you wake up and smell the coffee.

Hmmm 1) Garmin, who is one of the leading GPS manufactures has "Geocaching" approved gps's. I am sure they are getting some cut to allow Garmin to use their name. 2) Advertising on geocaching's website isn't free. 3) You can't just make up a TB or Geocoin ID, it's has to come from geocaching at some point = money exchanged. 4) Not to mention the number of paid premium user accounts.

http://www.markosweb.com/www/geocaching.com/

 

I am glad they bounce ideas off you, instead of the community on ideas...I forgot that some people are all knowing, and the rest of us are just idoits holding GPS's. If they really wanted input, put it in the forums for ALL of use to answer, not just some guy who trolls the forums all the time and answers questions.

 

Anyways:

Withholding API makes no practical business sense. More open you are to developers, the more options it opens up for users, which equals more users, which means more paying users...What a simple concept, and if you want proof it works... look at the iPhone!

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....

Withholding API makes no practical business sense. More open you are to developers, the more options it opens up for users, which equals more users, which means more paying users...What a simple concept, and if you want proof it works... look at the iPhone!

I think you forgot to state "in my opinion"....

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Withholding API makes no practical business sense. More open you are to developers, the more options it opens up for users, which equals more users, which means more paying users...What a simple concept, and if you want proof it works... look at the iPhone!

 

I can think of several reasons why they don't offer a public API from contractual limitations to just plain not wanting to deal with the idiots that think they know how to program.

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....

Withholding API makes no practical business sense. More open you are to developers, the more options it opens up for users, which equals more users, which means more paying users...What a simple concept, and if you want proof it works... look at the iPhone!

I think you forgot to state "in my opinion"....

 

I guess I could do that or you could look at all the data which would actually make my statement fairly factual. People aren't buying iPhones for the cheap cell plans (other have cheaper prices)...or their coverage(verizon commercials)...or customer service (http://www.neowin.net/news/main/09/12/03/att-rated-worst-carrier-in-the-us)...it's because of the apps in the app store. And they wouldn't have any near the amount of apps if they didn't allow users to create programs. I mean anyone can play pong or view google maps on a smartphone...

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Withholding API makes no practical business sense. More open you are to developers, the more options it opens up for users, which equals more users, which means more paying users...What a simple concept, and if you want proof it works... look at the iPhone!

 

I can think of several reasons why they don't offer a public API from contractual limitations to just plain not wanting to deal with the idiots that think they know how to program.

 

I would assume they would have to bless the program before the API key given could be fully functional.

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Withholding API makes no practical business sense. More open you are to developers, the more options it opens up for users, which equals more users, which means more paying users...What a simple concept, and if you want proof it works... look at the iPhone!

 

I can think of several reasons why they don't offer a public API from contractual limitations to just plain not wanting to deal with the idiots that think they know how to program.

 

I would assume they would have to bless the program before the API key given could be fully functional.

 

But that might be part of the contract language, they can't give out the key. But then this is as much idle speculation as the other arguments why they should allow it. Bottom line is we don't know because they have not spoken. We have to accept that at this time it is not available. The subject has been discussed and cussed for more than a year. I believe the frog knows we want it, but something we are unaware of is preventing it and the reason is not given. I would agree that if the lawyer dude got on and told is there is a contractual limitation that would quite a lot of the chatter, but so far he has not. Don't get me wrong, I saw the api page before it was pulled from public view and there were a couple I would like to use. But I have to do it a different way now, such is life.

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First off I would like to point out that the servers would be more overloaded with people using scrapers than users w/ an API. An API would do less harm to the servers and actually decrease server load by allowing direct database access.
Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence.

 

It should also be noted that the comparison that you drew is pointless, since scraping is a TOU violation.

@sbell111

If API's are not efficient then why have soo many major players (ie apple, flickr, facebook, etc) have them implemented?

Since I never stated that one was more efficient than the other, but only that ‘the other’ was a TOU violation, I guess my answer to this question is “don’t know, don’t care.”
Secondly with all the memberships, ad's, geocoins, travelbugs, endorsements, etc that geocaching has already, it should generate more than enough money to make the owners filthy rich and keep the servers running.
Again, you are stating something as fact when you have no idea whether it's true.
And as far as making Groundspeak money why don't you wake up and smell the coffee.

Hmmm 1) Garmin, who is one of the leading GPS manufactures has "Geocaching" approved gps's. I am sure they are getting some cut to allow Garmin to use their name. 2) Advertising on geocaching's website isn't free. 3) You can't just make up a TB or Geocoin ID, it's has to come from geocaching at some point = money exchanged. 4) Not to mention the number of paid premium user accounts.

http://www.markosweb.com/www/geocaching.com/

Since we can’t actually review TPTB’s books and contracts, we have no clue how much they receive from these various agreements. Regarding the Garmin deal, I would be a little surprised if they get a dime. It’s an awesome marketing move. That’s payment enough.

 

It should also be noted that I cannot find anything on your linked page that supports your argument.

I don't see why they don't listen to their users. We make geocaching what it is, after all you don't see them placing the geocaches do you? I think they should listen and make a public API.
With some frequency, I'll have a staff member pitch an idea to me. I will always listen to the idea and consider it fully. However, I will often reject the staffer's suggestion.

 

Failing to listen and failing to agree are two separate things.

I am glad they bounce ideas off you, instead of the community on ideas...I forgot that some people are all knowing, and the rest of us are just idoits holding GPS's. If they really wanted input, put it in the forums for ALL of use to answer, not just some guy who trolls the forums all the time and answers questions.
I have no clue where this is coming from. However, I think that it’s funny that you expect a private company to run it’s decisions by all of us.
Anyways:

Withholding API makes no practical business sense. More open you are to developers, the more options it opens up for users, which equals more users, which means more paying users...What a simple concept, and if you want proof it works... look at the iPhone!

This is what you believe. Jeremy has stated otherwise. He gets to make the call on this one. You don’t. Edited by sbell111
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Let me make it clearer then for as to what I am trying to point out:

geocaching.com.gif

There are many factors that determine the "worth" of a site. The cost of a site would be how much it costs to run it. The worth of a site is determined mainly by how much revenue the site is bringing in. Other factors would include how much traffic the site is bringing in on a monthly basis, email subscribers if any, search engine positioning for certain keywords, etc.

So this is just based on potential ad sales from site traffic...looks pretty good to me!

 

And as far as a Groundspeak caring about what we thing and make decisions by all of us? Come on, they are not ignorant to the fact that geocaching is for us, by us. Without us they would have no income. They could just do a simple poll anyways. Not really hard thing to do... I realize they are pretty much a monopoly at this point since competition is fairly non-existent so they can say "If you don't like it, tough."

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There is a private API and it is available for trusted partners. We have no plans to offer an open public API at this time. It was considered in the past but the current decison is to keep it private.

If someone really wants to create a app that would work with Geocaching.com they could always write a proposal and send it to Groundspeak. Perhaps they can become a trusted partner and get access to the API.

 

Sure there are places that have open APIs but these all have there own problems. Apple has a big group that reviews submissions to the iPhone store to make sure the apps are compliant with Apple policy and terms of use as well as to ensure the apps work properly and don't contain malware. I don't think Groundspeak is ready yet to make that kind of investment to vet each application and make sure nobody is using an API inapproriately. Other sites have APIs that limit what an app can do, so these companies don't need to worry as much about security and performance issues. Groundspeak probably feels that a limited public API would not result in many useful apps being created. They may prefer to have just one API that provides full access to the Geocaching database and then restrict it to trusted partners.

 

Groundspeak's business decisions seem resonable. I believe they understand that allowing the Geocaching community to develop tools benefits geocachers and may even result in driving more business to Geocaching.com. They also understand the issues in allowing unrestricted access. Their current policy is to allow access to trusted partners. In addition they provide Pocket Query GPX files to premium members who can use any application that reads GPX files so long as it complies with the waypoint license agreement.

Edited by tozainamboku
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From an IT standpoint, I can see why Groundspeak don't open their database up to all and sundry to use ..... and possibly abuse, cos lets face it - as soon as you become popular, people start wanting to knock you down a peg. And what better way on the internet than to hack your website.

 

See if from their point of view. Right now theres maybe a couple of dozen people grumbling that they'd like to have a go creating a caching application using geocaching.com. But that up against what happens if their website gets knocked out for a day cos someone hacked it and put up a big fat Mac smiley face (have been the topic of convo with non-windows fanatic friends!) where the website used to be. Or perhaps redirected the site to their own, and lined their coffers with the new membership signups.

 

Has any one of the people querying the API gone ahead and made their own geocaching database with their own geocaches in it and created their own app yet? I think I'd start with that first. Every software creator knows the most efficient way to create a new program is to plan it out thoroughly beforehand, and test it to the hilt. What better way to test it than to isolate it on your own system, so if you muck up, you only bring it down, rather than all of Groundspeak. As someone else said, perhaps if you were able to prove to Groundspeak that you had put the time and effort in already and were serious about it, you too could become a trusted partner and have access to the API.

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