Vimeo's new, unified API comes out of beta

Digital video sharing service Vimeo today announced that the newest version of its API has exited beta and is now available to all developers.

Vimeo API version 3.2 contains a number of important new features developers had been clamoring for. These include access to Vimeo On Demand, custom video thumbnail uploads, and a Creative Commons search Endpoint that allows developers to search specifically for videos licensed under Creative Commons. In addition, Vimeo has "cleaned up" its APIs response formats and addressed a number of bugs.


Vimeo's official unveiling of its newest API isn't just about the API itself, however. The New York-based company has also been intently focused on overall developer experience, redesigning its developer portal and making sure Documentation is up-to-date and accurate. To help developers more easily explore the Vimeo API and its new features, Vimeo revived an improved version of its API Playground, which lets developers interact with the Vimeo API through a web-based interface.

Supporting External and Internal Developers

Vimeo's API has evolved significantly in 2014. In March, Vimeo combined its Advanced and Simple APIs into a unified API, adding OAuth 2 support, adopting HATEOAS principles and implementing new upload workflows in the process. Building a unified API was a significant amount of work so "rewriting [the old APIs] wasn't a decision we took lightly" Vimeo senior engineer Aaron Hedges told ProgrammableWeb's Janet Wagner.

Even before this unified API's official exit from beta today, however, Vimeo's investment in building a better API has proved worthwhile. Hedges revealed that the company's "official libraries are already seeing heavy use" and 10% of the videos uploaded to Vimeo are now uploaded using the API.

But Vimeo's investment in its API has not only been made with third party developers in mind. The company used its unified API to build its own iOS, OUYA, and Xbox apps, and Vimeo says that improvements users of those apps may have noticed recently are a direct result of the additions to its API. Going forward, the company intends to use its API for all internal needs. "We are constantly creating new features for our apps, and standardizing on a single API allows us to bring those internal features to our users. Internally, our newest API consumer is the Organizer, a batch management tool," Hedges told me.

The ability of Vimeo's public API to meet internal needs provides an interesting contrast to Netflix, which recently announced that it will be retiring its public API later this year.

"Public API's make sense for Vimeo, because our content is generated by the public. We want to give our users the best tools possible to make awesome videos, whether by providing upload access in their favorite video app, or providing embed and social data so they can develop a custom viewing experience," Hedges explained.

He went on,

"Netflix has an unbelievable scale, and a lot of good technical reasons to work the way they do, but Netflix doesn't allow public uploads. Uploads alone are such a huge use case for a public API. Vimeo's upload API is integrated into many popular video editing tools, along with large corporation's custom platforms. It's built into phones, and into convention kiosks. Interesting new integrations are showing up all the time and I wouldn't dream of stifling that creativity."

Be sure to read the next Video article: Review: Vimeo API Update Provides Robust Access to Service's Ecosystem