More than 250 million domain names have been registered, and behind each domain name registration is a wealth of data that may be useful to many companies across a broad range of applications.
Not surprisingly, there are a number of services designed to help individuals and businesses query the WHOIS database that contains the domain name registrant data and mine it for useful information. One of the newest entrants to the market is JsonWHOIS, an API-based provider that enables its customers to retrieve WHOIS records through a RESTful API.
In addition to domain registration information, JsonWHOIS provides, where available, information associated with a domain name, including its Google PageRank, Facebook Likes and Twitter counts. Optionally, JsonWHOIS customers can also request the generation of a screenshot of the website hosted at the domain. The service charges 1 cent per WHOIS lookup and 2 cents per screenshot generated.
As the JsonWHOIS name suggests, the API returns data in JSON format. The API's documentation, which assumes the use of Unirest, an HTTP client library available for a variety of programming languages, provides examples for PHP, Node.js and Python integrations.
When there isn't a good-enough, cost-effective enough API for that
Necessity is the mother of invention, and that was true for JsonWHOIS. Its creator, Mitchell Fasanya, a student in the U.K. who plans to study computer science, was building a service for auctioning domain names and websites that required him to programmatically query WHOIS data. But Fasanya wasn't having much luck with existing WHOIS APIs. "I found they were quite expensive and during tests some would return false results," Fasanya told me. So he decided to build and commercialize an API that solved the problems he was encountering.
Based on his experience with other APIs, Fasanya has focused on service quality and breadth of information, believing that a higher level of reliability and the additional information the JsonWHOIS API provides will help his service stand out. In addition, he has attempted to keep the price to a "bare minimum" and even refactored the service's code base twice and switched to a different programming language to reduce resource utilization.
Early adopters of JsonWHOIS include a company that is using the API to build a reputation management tool and a developer who is building a domain valuation service.