Gravatar API Enables One Avatar to Rule Them All

Allen Tipper
May. 11 2011, 04:10PM EDT

Gravatar is an attempt to allow users to have one globally recognized avatar. The service, around for several years, allows a user can set an image as an avatar and have it recognized on a variety of sites. Later, users can change an avatar once and have it change on every Gravatar-enabled site that they use. Though the service is somewhat well known, what is not is its robust API for developers to integrate the Gravatar service into their own sites.

Using the API is pretty simple, as it requires no API key or authentication. It sends a surprising amount of response types, including JSON, simple XML, PHP, VCF/vCard, and QR Codes. It is a RESTful service, like many good APIs. To make things even easier, they have code samples for a lot of common CMSes and languages, such as Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Python, Django, and Java.

The video embedded below shows how Gravatar explains its service:

A large number of sites have already integrated Gravatar, including, IntenseDebate, VideoPress, and Polldaddy. If this gets sufficient support, it could make it so the first step when registering at a site is no longer uploading a new avatar every time. Saving time in such a simple way is always a good thing, in my eyes.

A similar service, built off of Facebook and Twitter APIs, was hacked together at The Next Web Hackathon.

Allen Tipper Allen Tipper is a Computer Science generalist with a wide range of interests. After graduating in 2008, he's been programming for and specializing in mobile devices, as well as social media websites. As a programmer, APIs are rather important to him, as he finds using them in his software amazingly fun.




  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.