Evernote Tech Blog

The Care and Feeding of Elephants

Cash for Trunkers

Dave recently wrote a detailed post on why our API is built on Apache Thrift. With that as a background, I’d like to give you an introduction to why we have an open API, and what we hope that developers like you might do with it. This isn’t a gory “emacs in hexl-mode” type of post (I’m a vi man), but hopefully it will give you an idea of what can be done with our API and why it might be beneficial to you.

The Evernote Developer Competition

Let’s start with the exciting bit: we recently launched our first developer competition, in which we’re going to be giving away $100,000 to developers who build the next generation of great apps that work with Evernote.

Why are we doing this? For the same reason that we have an API program in the first place: we want to expand the reach of Evernote into areas that we can’t address ourselves. An app built using the API might offer users features that are beyond the scope for our own applications, such as the iPhone document scanner DocScanner, or it might focus on a much narrower problem space, such as the the flashcard application StudyBlue. Our goal is to be an external brain for our users, and to meet that goal, we need to allow them to capture and retrieve information from any application, not just our own.

What’s in it for you?

Of course, in order for an API program to be successful it needs to offer something to developers. Awesome apps that work with Evernote are great for us and our users, but what do you get out of it? First and foremost, you get exposure to the almost 10 million people who use Evernote. Part of my job in leading our platform effort is to make sure that our users are aware of the great integrations that developers create. We do this through the Evernote Trunk, posts on our company blog highlighting new and notable integrations, and periodic emails to our users.

In addition, developers get to take advantage of all of the powerful features of the Evernote service, including our cloud synchronization and text recognition. Dave’s post on Thrift highlights a point that is critical to developers who are considering building on the Evernote API: our API is used by our applications. Each and every Evernote app, from Windows Phone 7 to Mac OS X, communicates with our cloud service using the same Thrift API that we make available to the public.

This means that we won’t shut down the API or suddenly change technology stacks, and we will maintain the API and fix bugs as soon as they’re found. It means that an outside developer has access to the exact same functionality that our engineering teams have access to, and that new functionality available in our service will immediately be available to developers. And it means that we have expertise in using the API on just about any platform you can think of, and are always willing to share our experiences with you.

Join us

There are already about 4,500 developers building apps for the Evernote API, and like our user base, we expect that number to grow rapidly over the coming years. If you’re interested in joining that group, get started by signing up for the Developer Competition, then keep an eye on this blog, where we’ll share hints on making effective use of the API, dig into the details of Thrift and ENML, and announce new functionality that we have to offer. We can’t wait to see what our developer community builds!

  1. Wait, so there’s a Windows Phone 7 app?

    • It’s not released yet, but will be shortly.


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