Complicated processes for sharing videos, photographs, memes, and other media are no laughing matter. Popular humor site Cheezburger.com was concerned that its "humor partners" were finding the company's procedures onerous, especially as the mix of 24 million site visitors used an increasingly diverse array of devices to connect with its content.
You see, the site that brings us adorable cats who can't spell and precocious babies in tiaras, the site that your IT department may be charged with blocking from employees' desktops in order to boost productivity during work hours, needed a way to enhance the efficiency of its content creators and to ensure a high-quality end-user experience, regardless of the device they use to view the site.
Today, about 30 percent of users view the site via a mobile device, Rick Simpkinson, technical product manager at Cheezburger, told me. That percentage is expected to increase -- and that creates some challenges for a department that characterizes performance as its "absolute, number one criterion."
After all, users can move from 3G to 4G to WiFi; any lag they might find acceptable on a desktop becomes insufferable on a smartphone, says Simpkinson. Cheezburger.com, which celebrates its sixth anniversary this year, built its desktop version first, and thus it's more mature than the company's mobile edition.
So when the company began researching a replacement for its proprietary, XML-based API, it wanted a standards-based interface that required little to no customization and could easily handle mobile devices, says Simpkinson. The goal: No matter where users view its content, the quality and performance are the same. And since Cheezburger.com is in the humor, not the API, business, it really wanted to find a hosted API partner that would handle management. The 100-employee company, which has an IT staff of about 30 people, already uses Amazon cloud and is comfortable with the hosting model, according to Simpkinson.
Cheezburger.com reviewed about a dozen developers, quickly eliminating those that didn't meet its criteria, and ultimately selected Apigee and its OAuth 2.0 API.
As Greg Brail, CTO of Apigee, told me: "The API helps with their mobile integration needs. Just internally having one consistent way for those apps to talk to Cheezburger's back-end makes sense. The easier they make it for partners to come on board their platform, the better. That is a classic use case for APIs."
In addition to simplifying the process for the content creators that are critical to Cheezburger.com's ongoing success, the site also promotes creators on its site, says Simpkinson. "That completes the cycle for them. Right in the content you can have a really popular image and you can have a page created with your app. Our new API is all self-service. You register and log on, and you can register your app right there. As far as integrating, we're completely standards based. Apigee is a partner for us. They treat us that way and we treat them that way. It's not just a service we purchased from them. It's a phenomenal aspect of the relationship."
In the future, Apigee recommends performing analytics on Cheezburger.com's API to determine where the API program is succeeding or failing, Brail says. The company could also review how developers are using the API, the type of device accessing data, and how an app is being used.
"I think that's a really important piece," notes Simpkinson. "We added paging to our API. Without that level of analytics we don't know if anybody's using that feature or not at all. It's that depth of analytics that gives us that information."