We've all been there. You're building a website, a mobile app, or something else that requires data from an API, and you're not sure which one to choose. It's hard to know where to start when you don't know what the end result will be. In this post, we'll walk through some common questions you should ask yourself before choosing a weather forecast API for your project.
Check the number of locations served. If your application will have users all over the world, make sure you've picked an API that can serve a wide range of locations.
Is it a global service? Some APIs are only able to serve requests in certain parts of the world, so if you're expecting users from around the globe, look for one that can accommodate them.
The needs of multilingual users should be considered. You may want to ask your provider if they offer translations and allow for different units of measurement (such as Celsius vs Fahrenheit).
What kinds of data are available? Different applications will have different requirements and needs, so make sure you know what's offered and find out how customizable their options are.
Next, you have to think about your short-term goals and budget. If you're bootstrapping a new company or idea, the developer-friendly pricing of some weather APIs might be right for you.
If you don't plan on going live with your product until at least a year from now, a free plan might seem like an easy way to get started. You'll be able to build out your app without worrying about costs or revenue generation—but it's crucial to consider the tradeoffs. Free plans usually come with limited functionality, meaning that if you build something that requires more than what's included in the free tier, then you'll be stuck paying more down the line (and potentially missing out on revenue because of it).
Additionally, free plans aren't always long-lasting. Providers offering these plans are typically doing so as an incentive for developers to try out their product and subscribe later on. This means that once they find enough paying customers or feel that they've reached an optimal level of market adoption through their freemium model, they can choose to either eliminate the free tier entirely or convert it into a trial period only.
Money may not be an issue for you at this point in time. Especially if you have backing from venture capital funding or have other sources of income besides your product. For example, investment savings or another job. But the difference between pricing tiers could still lead to extra costs later on when scaling up your project.
So do some calculations and get a ballpark estimate of how much using one over the other will cost. This can help inform whether choosing a paid plan from the start will make better financial sense in the long run. Not to mention, if it could save resources/time otherwise spent switching providers later on.
In addition to asking about pricing, make sure to ask your potential providers about any limitations on the plans. It’s important to understand how much data you can use and what the retention period is.
The number of calls per unit of time may be limited. This is a crucial piece of information if you plan on making a bulk call once a week or so. These limitations are especially important when it comes to free trials. Especially because you’ll need to be sure that the trial allows for enough data use for you to decide if it’s right for your project.
Also, check whether there are any limitations on the use of the data itself. For example, some APIs require attribution (a link back to their website) as part of their terms of service. While this isn’t likely a deal-breaker for most projects, it’s still helpful to have this information upfront. This way you know exactly what they require.
This is a measure of how much control you have over the look and feel of the API. Does the weather provider allow you to alter the branding on their API? Can you place your own logo on their landing page? Do they offer a “white label” solution where your users will never see that it's not actually your weather API? What is white-labeling?
White labeling means that a product or service is produced by one company. The new company then rebrands it to make it appear as if they made it. The term is most often used in reference to consumer electronics. However, it can also apply to services such as APIs.
Yes, you should. The performance metrics of the weather API provider you choose make a big difference to how well your application will run. Let’s take a look at the three most important metrics:
This is how quickly data is returned from an API call. You may not notice it if you're just making a request for today's weather. But, latency matters when you're using real-time data to run an application. Especially for things like a weather dashboard or smart home system. If your application depends on constant updates from the API, your users could experience errors or issues if there are delays between requests and responses.
Of course, weather forecasts aren't always right. However, a good forecasting model can mean that they won't be as wrong as they otherwise could be! For example, some providers can predict rain with more than 95% accuracy. If this is important to your application (for example, if it depends on very accurate detection of precipitation), then make sure to check their accuracy rates before choosing their service.
When something goes wrong in an API call like an error in handling the request. Then it's important that the service can handle this gracefully. They should return appropriate errors for error handling instead of crashing out or returning unexpected data. You should ask potential providers about their reliability records. Do they go down often? How quickly do they respond to issues?
Weather APIs are a great solution for your weather needs. However, you want to make sure you ask yourself the right questions when choosing an API for app development.