The nature of integrating third-party technologies is that we are beholden upon their suppliers not to make changes that create incompatibilities with previous versions. In some cases, data we integrate is delivered through a standard –API suite, we integrate external data via interfaces (APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces) that the third-party makes available.
Integration of third-party data presents us with 3 main challenges:
- Suppliers change their APIs. Sometimes this is to provide availability to new features, sometimes it’s because the supplier decides to change their policy regarding the data. Regardless of the reason for change, if API requests stop working, or stop bringing back expected results, our users and clients suffer.
- Clients are free to choose the technologies that they develop their applications on. This is a problem when these technologies are not aligned to our own. We are very conscientious of the fact that the audience for our products is wide ranging and has a very varied selection of devices, of all ages; our code is built around adapting to this variation in order to support as many potential viewers as possible. However, third-party suppliers typically have their own, narrower target audience and do not necessarily create applications or plug-ins that match our demands. Wherever possible we choose the supplier whose technology best matches both our functional and technological requirements but this is not always possible and there have to be compromises, which sometimes lead to a lower quality user experience than we would ideally like.
The nature of the technology we use and the utility of the products we create are such that there will always be new 3rd-party applications with which we want to integrate. Our Product Managers are constantly on the look-out for new apps, technical advances and trends – judging their suitability for inclusion into Sunshine. It is in building a business case for such new integrations that we need to be very clear about the nature of the ongoing support of integration – only then can we decide whether it will be useful for our clients and their customers.