ODesk: An API You Can Work With

ODesk claims to be the future of work, or more recently: "Work 3.0." So it should come as no surprise that the next version of work comes with an API. If you’re not familiar with the Platform, oDesk provides contractors and companies with a hourly billing system which both verifies the work done for the company, and guarantees payment to the contractor.

Job Board
The oDesk platform has a built in job board where companies can post jobs, and contractors can apply. Companies can also invite specific contractors to a job posting. All of those actions can be accomplished through the API, along with access to the related job data. The only action not currently possible, is completing the process by hiring one or more contractors.

In addition to actions related to specific job postings, the API provides search for job postings, as well as contractor profiles.

Companies may find the job API useful in integrating oDesk’s global marketplace into their existing hiring tools. Contractors might use the job search API to create custom alerts for newly posted jobs. Both could use it to generate analytical data about jobs.

Team Managment and Reporting
The Work Diary is core to oDesk’s platform. Screenshots and activity monitoring are stored in the diary when billing time to a project. The API provides access to all that data, along with allowing time to be added to the diary.

oDesk organizes contractors under Team Rooms, and the API provides access to data about a team and the associated members.

Task codes may be optionally used to track billed time to specific tasks, projects, or departments. The API allows task codes to be created company or team wide, or even for an individual contractor.

In addition to the work diary, the API provides access to detailed time and financial reports. The report API uses Google Quere Language to build the reports, and supports output as JSON, XML, and CSV.

These combined features allow companies to integrate oDesk with their existing project management, time tracking, and financial systems. Contractors can generate custom activity reports, and integrate the task and issue trackers they use. It’s worth noting, that at this time, the API is the only way a contractor can create task codes for themselves.

Messages and Bonuses
During the initial job request oDesk provides a messaging system to allow the company and contractor to communicate without revealing contact information. As the process continues, that system remains available, and the API allows access to messages from other users as well as oDesk notification and support tickets.

In addition to the hourly billing, oDesk allows companies to provide contractors with bonuses. The API can be used to make bonus payments as well.

As with the other features, companies can use these two endpoints to further integrate with internal messaging and billing systems.

oDesk Usage
The oConomy data (the oDesk economy) is also available through the API, this includes total hours and billing across the oDesk platform, as well as totals specific to geographic regions and specific skills.

Just like oDesk uses its own platform for roughly three quarters of its staff, the company also uses its API to build custom tools for internal use and companies using the platform.

But enough about work related uses of the oDesk API. You know what Work 3.0 really needs? Gamification. That's right - bill less than 20 hours and get the 'moonlighter' badge. More than five projects in one week? You just earned the 'consultant' badge. oDesk meets foursquare. Trust me, it's the next big thing.

Be sure to read the next API article: Micello: Maps for the Great Indoors