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EveKit - probably shutting down...what could we have done better?

Author
salacious necrosis
Garoun Investment Bank
Gallente Federation
#1 - 2015-09-18 14:17:24 UTC
If you have no idea what EveKit is, well you've sort of answered my question Big smile

The TL;DR is that I'm considering making Vanguard the last release for EveKit. I'm grateful to all the players who gave EveKit a try, but the fact is that it takes time to run and no one is really using the service (more data below). EveKit seemed like a good idea but it never really caught on, time to try something else. Before I pull the plug, though, I'd like to get some feedback on what worked well and where I totally missed the mark. I have some theories, but I'd like to hear from others.

If you've never tried it, EveKit is a site that really only does two things:

  1. Provides a service to regularly download and store API data for characters and corporations.
  2. Provides various APIs for accessing your data, as well as a few other useful things like APIs for the SDE and some reference data. You can also do a batch download in CSV format of all your data.


The goal was to allow convenient, casual access to your API data, and also provide a way to jump start the development of other third party apps (via EveKit APIs). Over time we've made various improvements. The biggest deal recently was adding support for full history, which lets you view your data as it appeared at a particular point in time.

The service has been running publicly for over a year now. I gave a talk about it at FanFest this year as well (which gave the site a nice bump). As of today, we're downloading data for about 150 character or corporation accounts, but a fair chunk of those accounts now have expired API keys so we're not actually downloading any data in some cases. Also, almost no one actually accesses their data, either through one of the APIs or for batch downloads. So a lot of people kicked the tires, but nothing really stuck.

Why do you think this failed? The target audience is third party devs, are there just not enough of those? Do third party devs actually want something else?

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

P.S. Yes I will be releasing most of the source code, whether I pull the plug or not..

Use EveKit ! - Tools for EVE Online 3rd party development

Golden Gnu
Garoun Investment Bank
Gallente Federation
#2 - 2015-09-18 21:13:06 UTC
I never heard of it - I guess, that is the main problem, as you said yourself.
It sounds like a great idea and you really did a lot for the site (Video tutorials and all, wow)

There is always the issue of trust, with the API - Everyone have to earn it over time. People have to know their data is safe.

From a 3rd party developer perspective, I also feel like the API could have been a mirror of the Eve API with more arguments (I didn't read all your documentation, though) - making it easier to implement for existing libraries.
I won't write a new library in Java that supports every call in json, but, if it's easy, I might modify the existing XML library.

I worked on jEveAssets for a long time with very few downloads each month.
I keep going, because, I enjoy coding and people say thanks once in a while...

Creator of jEveAssets - the asset manager

"Download is the meaning of life, upload is the meaning of intelligent life"

Jack Hayson
The Scope
Gallente Federation
#3 - 2015-09-18 23:51:45 UTC
salacious necrosis wrote:
Why do you think this failed? The target audience is third party devs, are there just not enough of those? Do third party devs actually want something else?

I have heard of EveKit, but to be honest, as a third party dev I never understood why I would want to go through EveKit instead of just pulling the data from the EveAPI directly.

Or maybe I am misunderstanding what EveKit does?
salacious necrosis
Garoun Investment Bank
Gallente Federation
#4 - 2015-09-19 00:23:08 UTC
Golden Gnu wrote:

From a 3rd party developer perspective, I also feel like the API could have been a mirror of the Eve API with more arguments (I didn't read all your documentation, though) - making it easier to implement for existing libraries.
I won't write a new library in Java that supports every call in json, but, if it's easy, I might modify the existing XML library.


That's a great point. I should have ported one of the existing libraries to call EveKit instead of the XML endpoints, then offered that as an alternative to downloading everything yourself. I actually thought of porting jEveAssets to run off of EveKit instead of the native download code, but I didn't get to it. Thanks for the feedback.

Use EveKit ! - Tools for EVE Online 3rd party development

salacious necrosis
Garoun Investment Bank
Gallente Federation
#5 - 2015-09-19 00:42:20 UTC
Jack Hayson wrote:
salacious necrosis wrote:
Why do you think this failed? The target audience is third party devs, are there just not enough of those? Do third party devs actually want something else?

I have heard of EveKit, but to be honest, as a third party dev I never understood why I would want to go through EveKit instead of just pulling the data from the EveAPI directly.

Or maybe I am misunderstanding what EveKit does?


I think you got it. The main reason you'd use EveKit is if you didn't want to bother with keeping your own store of downloaded data (assuming you want to maintain history). If you don't care about history, or you're making straightforward calls (e.g. character sheet), then EveKit is overkill. I was assuming that setting up one of the many libraries, then hooking up to a database or other store, was a bother for most people. But if most devs don't care about history or point in time (or they are willing to do it themselves) then this is definitely overkill.

I'm in full salesman mode now, but the other features that I think are nice in EveKit are things like the ability to download all of your data as a csv dump (one sheet per API section). I also exposed an API for the SDE and made an effort to get it out as quickly as possible once Steve posted his dump. The idea was to let devs skip the six week ritual of updating to the latest SDE (i.e. let someone else do it), but maybe it's not that bad. Finally, I made an effort to keep up with all the API changes, as I found many of the other endpoint libraries tended to lag behind.

From your feedback I'd say I misread dev willingness to download the data themselves, or maybe not many care about history so much.

Thanks for commenting.

Use EveKit ! - Tools for EVE Online 3rd party development

Kali Izia
GoomWaffe
#6 - 2015-09-19 07:47:26 UTC
I'm one of those people that logged in once and never went back.

To me the interesting thing about EveKit was your SDE API. I liked the idea of letting someone else update the SDE in case I forgot.
I was turned off by having to log in to even view the documentation first, and then finding out I had to provide a release name to the API so my code would have still needed updates anyway.
Golden Gnu
Garoun Investment Bank
Gallente Federation
#7 - 2015-09-19 10:35:07 UTC
salacious necrosis wrote:

That's a great point. I should have ported one of the existing libraries to call EveKit instead of the XML endpoints, then offered that as an alternative to downloading everything yourself. I actually thought of porting jEveAssets to run off of EveKit instead of the native download code, but I didn't get to it. Thanks for the feedback.

Well, with all languages in eve 3rd party apps, it's not really possible for a single person to write a library for them all, but, if it's close enough to EVE API, it won't take long to make the library support both.

I think you could have reached out to the library creators and ask them to add support for EveKit.
Unlimited history is an amazing sell point IMHO, It's one of the features CCP won't implement, but, everyone wants...
jEveAssets, could also have benefited greatly from the auto-sync. For Desktop apps, history can easily be incomplete if the user don't update often enough.

I wish I had known about this earlier...

Creator of jEveAssets - the asset manager

"Download is the meaning of life, upload is the meaning of intelligent life"

salacious necrosis
Garoun Investment Bank
Gallente Federation
#8 - 2015-09-19 14:16:31 UTC
Kali Izia wrote:
I'm one of those people that logged in once and never went back.

To me the interesting thing about EveKit was your SDE API. I liked the idea of letting someone else update the SDE in case I forgot.
I was turned off by having to log in to even view the documentation first, and then finding out I had to provide a release name to the API so my code would have still needed updates anyway.


Hmm, you shouldn't need to login to view the docs, but you DO need to login to call the SDE API (or rather, you need an EveKit key). Maybe that's what you meant. I've been considering eliminating that bit. I think there's probably a market for just the SDE API online with no other frills.

Having to provide a release name also annoyed me so I changed things a few months ago so that wasn't necessary anymore. Obviously I didn't make that very clear.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback.

Use EveKit ! - Tools for EVE Online 3rd party development

Zifrian
The Pannion Domin
#9 - 2015-09-20 16:06:45 UTC  |  Edited by: Zifrian
I don't think there are really all that many 3rd party Devs honestly. There are also about 5 different libraries that I know of, so it might just be over-saturation and for my case at least, I don't use libraries and just build my own stuff. It's not all that complicated and easier on flexibility. Maybe website devs use them more. I'm not sure.

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SJ Astralana
Syncore
#10 - 2015-09-21 02:02:20 UTC
I hadn't heard of it, but as a 3rd party developer I wouldn't use it or anything except as a last resort due to having a 3rd party dependency which could bring my site down. The level of effort of connecting directly to the source of truth is similar to connecting to any other web service, so there simply would have been no upside.

I would say the only time 3rd parties will typically come into play is for spreadsheet jockeys who don't want to provision a supporting application.

Hyperdrive your production business: Eve Production Manager

salacious necrosis
Garoun Investment Bank
Gallente Federation
#11 - 2015-09-21 12:54:42 UTC
SJ Astralana wrote:
I hadn't heard of it, but as a 3rd party developer I wouldn't use it or anything except as a last resort due to having a 3rd party dependency which could bring my site down. The level of effort of connecting directly to the source of truth is similar to connecting to any other web service, so there simply would have been no upside.

I would say the only time 3rd parties will typically come into play is for spreadsheet jockeys who don't want to provision a supporting application.


Third party risk is a fair point. It seems that we'll tolerate this for some things (like market data, or maybe the SDE), but not so much for account data. Thanks for your comments.

Use EveKit ! - Tools for EVE Online 3rd party development

salacious necrosis
Garoun Investment Bank
Gallente Federation
#12 - 2015-09-21 22:40:35 UTC
Thanks everyone who took the time to provide feedback. Also, thanks to everyone who gave EveKit a try. I'll be winding down the site over the next few days.

Use EveKit ! - Tools for EVE Online 3rd party development