Home Mixx Launches Innovative API – Continues to Challenge the Digg Experience

Mixx Launches Innovative API – Continues to Challenge the Digg Experience

The mainstream media backed social news site Mixx announced today the availability of its new Application Programming Interface and the offering gives developers an opportunity to do things that no other social news site has done so far. The API will allow news items and media to be viewed, submitted and commented on from any other site around the web.

Mixx is a service that lets users vote on top news stories. Though far, far smaller than Digg, Mixx has innovated at a pace that makes Digg look like it’s standing still.

Mixx has taken investment from the LA Times, it’s integrated into that company’s site, has a submission button on the New York Times and is on a growing roster of other sites around the web.

The Good News

A read/write API is quite unusual, particularly in the social news market. Digg’s API, for example, only allows other sites to read data from Digg, not to post new data to the site from off-site.

Prolific API developer Matt King, co-founder of services like Unthirsty, Knitmap and the very useful Twitterlocal, told us he’s intrigued. “It’s a pretty sweet idea,” he said. “I can see that submitting or commenting via Facebook would be interesting or building a bot that can pull stories down and do stuff with them.”

Story continued below.

The Not So Good News

In addition to his interest, though, King articulated what will undoubtedly be some common concerns. “I don’t like that you have to post XML data to get multiple tags – you should be able to pass tags in the URL just like the other methods,” he told us. “In the end, it’s another API you have to get familiar with, which sucks. I’m tired of learning new APIs – we need API standards.”

John Musser of API mega-blog ProgrammableWeb says the company gets points for thinking about versioning at the API’s launch, something few API providers think of. He’s critical of Mixx’s lack of support for data formats like JSON and OAuth too, though.

Unfortunately the Mixx API launched with just one example app built on it, the fabulous new service YackTrack. YackTrack, which we wrote about here, is a great idea but is a relatively simple application and doesn’t leverage the write-capabilities of the API it’s demonstrating. In our post on the pros and cons of APIs and developer platforms, API management service Mashery’s Oren Michels said that two key steps to launching a good API was to have plenty of example apps at launch and to make API keys available immediately at no cost. Mixx keys are available immediately for free.

How The Future Could Look

Hopefully Mixx will be responsive to its developer community and the API will only improve. Given the nature of the company, that seems quite likely. If the service can continue to mature, we may see some pretty sophisticated Mixx functionality creeping into all kinds of different websites. Even before this API launched, Mixx has had everything Digg has and far more – except the network effect and traffic. The API will make the Mixx experience all the more fantastic for users new and old.

Someday a big destination site like Digg may look like just an early example of a far more complex social news market. Either way, competition is a very good thing. For further discussion of the Mixx API, check out the latest episode of Mixx fan-podcast SocialBlend, where fans and Mixx staff discussed the API launch.

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