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May 19, 2007 / jnolen

eBay Developer program – Fighting through stupidity

I'm trying to use the eBay Developer APIs to add eBay prices to wishradar. The entire experience has been nothing but frustrating. This is the worst designed system I have ever seen. I can't believe that anyone is willing to fight through the stupidity long enough to actually build an application with their API.

The whole thing is disjointed. I've had to sign up for at least 4 different thing kinds of credentials and accounts in order to make a simple REST call. And that's totally separate from the Affiliate program, which I also need if we expect to make any money from this exercise. The documentation is poorly written and confusingly organized. The API itself is badly over-complicated. The site is confusing, ugly and uninformative.

And now, crucially, when I finally have my request working, I have to get "certified," before I use it at any volume. For this, a human must manually review each API request I want to make. This certification process is supposed to take a week to ten days. Or, at least it might if I can could actually access the system where I am supposed to make the certification request. Unfortunately, that's where I hit a wall. Their support will not let me log in with any of the four types of credentials I've had to get thus far, and there is no way to create a new account. So I'm locked out.

The Amazon API system is a joy to use, by comparison. It's simple, clear, reasonably well documented and easy to get started. The affiliate program is nicely integrated with the API. (eBay is still using Commission Junction!)

The eBay Developer staff are either malicious, incompetent, and asleep at the wheel. The whole process has been awful, and I am seriously considering punting it all and saying we'll never have eBay data. Or perhaps I should give up on the API and just screen-scrape the data that we need. It would be far easier. And that should tell you something.


  1. Jeff Barr / May 20 2007 4:01 am

    Hi Jonathan, it is good to hear that you like the Amazon APIs and our affiliate program!

  2. Dan Hardiker / May 20 2007 10:31 am

    It seems that they have adopted the Microsoft stance — where by they can be as crap as they like, but because they are the dominant auction site (at least here in the UK) then they can do as they like.
    It’s the worst behaviour you can experience from a market leader, and seems to be less than a half-hearted effort at being “open”.

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