The World’s First Repair API

December 17, 2010 Site News — Kyle

I’m thrilled to announce that we are releasing an API! The iFixit API provides programmatic access to iFixit — enabling you to write innovative applications and utilities on top of our repair database.

Over the years, we’ve learned that it’s not enough to just write repair guides. We also have to make them accessible to as many people as possible—in a format that’s most convenient for them. Our website has a pretty wide reach, but we can’t possibly envision every way people want to use repair documentation. Most repairs don’t happen in front of a computer—we’re writing manuals that show people how to do things in the real world.

We’ve gotten by with computer-centric web repair manuals this long for a simple reason: most of what we teach people how to fix is electronics. People generally fix electronics on their desk next to their computer, or on a kitchen table with a laptop. It’s easy to use our website when your computer is convenient—but what about when you’re fixing all the other things out there like lawn mowers and mopeds? Dragging your laptop out into the garage works, but it’s a bit of a kludge.

Our solution has been PDF downloads: people who don’t have a spare computer just print out our repair guides. As much as I dislike killing trees, paper is still a pretty darn versatile communication tool. Paper gets the job done.

But we can do so much better! The holy grail of repair is an always-with-you, up-to-date, instant-access repair manual for everything. Modern mobile devices make this possible. iPad and iPhone are teaching us that we can have our cake and eat it, too: they give us the form-factor advantage of paper and all the dynamic advantages of a web connection.

Well we’re writing the repair manual, and now you can re-imagine our information on any platform, in any context.

We need a repair app ecosystem

This is a watershed moment in the history of repair manuals. For the first time, there is a central, open platform for repair documentation. Our data format structures the information with semantic metadata, allowing anyone to innovate around that data.

What can I do with the API?

The world’s largest collection of free photographic repair manuals is at your fingertips. Got an idea for integrating it with your repair shop’s workflow? Awesome! Want to come up with a way to make it easier for bandwidth-limited technicians in developing countries to fix things? Go right ahead.

The API provides access to iFixit’s repair manuals (step-by-step guides and Device namespace pages) and device “area” hierarchy. It does not (yet) provide access to our parts or Answers Q&A database.

The API responds with JSON by default, but you can also request JSONP or XML.

Who can use the API?

Non-commercial API access is free, and commercial access is available for a fee. If you anticipate making a large, sustained number of accesses, or you’re interested in using the API for commercial purposes, please contact us for an API key.

All iFixit content is freely licensed for non-commercial use under Creative Commons provided that you include a link back to us and release any modifications under the same license.

The API is in its v0.1 alpha stage, so it might be subject to some flux — although we’ll try to keep it as stable as possible. Have a question or feature request for the API? Head on over to iFixit meta.

I’ll post some helpful tips on how to use our repair API (including reference code) over the next few weeks.

5 Comments

  1. Will you guys be releasing a mobile app eventually?

    Comment by capt_carl — December 20, 2010 @ 8:17 am

  2. @capt_carl We’ll be releasing an iPad app soon. We’re open sourcing it, so anyone interested could port that to any other mobile platform.

    Comment by kyle — December 20, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

  3. [...] CEO Karl Wiens calls it the world’s first repair API and stressed the need to create a “repair ecosystem.” The idea is to build a central [...]

    Pingback by Repair, Rebuild, Reboot: The World’s First Fix-it API — December 21, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

  4. [...] CEO Karl Wiens calls it the world’s first repair API and stressed the need to create a “repair ecosystem.” The idea is to build a central [...]

    Pingback by Repair, Rebuild, Reboot: The World’s First Fix-it API | Another Newyork Times — December 21, 2010 @ 9:57 pm

  5. [...] The world’s first repair API [...]

    Pingback by December Recap: Open Repair Marches Onward « iFixit Blog — December 24, 2010 @ 12:08 pm


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