Another niche vertical of APIs in which there are multiple web services to choose from is package tracking. As you can see from the 5 shipping APIs now listed on PW most of these come from the biggest global package shippers including FedEx, DHL and UPS. These are typically designed for commercial applications that need to integrate tracking, address verification, label printing and rate calculations. Here's a quick overview of 5 ways to track your packages and one handy mashup that integrates 4 of them.
- UPS API: UPS offers a wide variety of XML-based data about packages and shipments. Besides tracking packages you can track signatures, do address validation, and estimate international duties and taxes.
- FedEx API: This package tracking API has been integrated into a variety of third-party shipping tools (one of the case studies they cite is ProFlowers.com who the Ship Manager API to "rapidly respond to varying customer needs and provide them products faster and more efficiently"). Note that their site provides little in the way of public documentation.
- eCourier API: One of the two dozen European APIs we profiled last week, this UK-based company lets you use this web service to track packages.
- US Postal Service API: The United States Postal Service offers this somewhat oddly documented REST API. Is free and can perform a range of functions including printing labels, verifying addresses and calculating rates.
- DHL API: DHL calls their XML-based services TrackIT.
One of our earliest mashup listings, and one that's continued to prove popular, is PackageMapping which builds on 4 of these APIs: enter your tracking number and see the current location of your shipment and where it's been.