The trouble with search APIs
Interacting with search APIs can be very overwhelming, especially when you start tapping into the more complex and dynamic functionality available. While this allows experts to finely tune their systems, it has proved to be a large barrier to user adoption and understanding. Some of the more well known open source solutions have spawned an ecosystem of query builders to give users a simplified interface to their APIs.
The experience that comes with having our code used in numerous internal and external projects, as well as run on thousands of sites has heavily influenced how we design APIs and reinforced the need to keep things simple. Using the feedback and insights we’ve gained we’ve completely transformed the experience for developers.
Rebuilding for a pure search experience
This release is a complete rewrite of the last version. It re-focuses the JS SDK as a core building block in the Search.io ecosystem. We want to make it as simple as possible for developers to get started, so we identified all the key needs of our users and stripped away everything that wasn’t necessary for searching. The interface has been intentionally kept small, simple, and non-opinionated, allowing it to fit into any kind of project.
With the cleanup of old unneeded functionality we were able to get rid of all the external dependencies. For a visual comparison of the difference, here’s the dependency graph from the old & new versions using NPM’s handy ls command.
The advantage of doing a rewrite was two fold:
- We got to remove all the old APIs and functionality that isn’t needed in a web search client, bringing the size down a cool order of magnitude from 40k to 4k while simultaneously simplifying the interface. Since this library is used in all of our integrations and interfaces all savings are multiplied.
- Upgrade to TypeScript & ES modules. This enabled us to generate documentation with types without needing to hand annotate docstrings for every function and value, as well as be confident that we’re avoiding a whole class of possible bugs.
Where to next?
Our JS SDK was the first on a list of SDKs that we’re updating and improving in order to help developers and end users get the most out of Search.io. We upgraded the language that it was written in, removed old functionality, improved the API, and cut the size down by 90%.
Next up: our React SDK!