Author Topic: What exactly is API?  (Read 15083 times)

GS

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What exactly is API?
« on: August 20, 2013, 08:55:22 AM »
I’ve never heard of API before getting on this forum, and I have a ton of questions.   I’m hoping we can have a discussion on API and how it would change the LC experience if it's ever released to the "little guy".

-Are we talking a stand alone program/application that doesn’t rely on working within a web browser?
- If LC ever gives the individual investor access to API, does each user have to write their software, or does LC supply the software?
-If it’s supplied by LC, is it open source where the user can modify and improve API?
-Is it totally automated?  (i.e., it detects new loans posted, and automatically executes your orders based on your instructions, with no user input)
-Is API going to become a race to see who can tweak it to execute the fastest?
-Is API the great equalizer that could keep the “little guy” in the race for notes?
-Could LC withholding API from smaller investors be an SEC violation?  Hedge Fund Manager Phil Falcone just rang up by the SEC, for among other things, “favoring” his larger investors.

yojoakak

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2013, 09:24:52 AM »
I’ve never heard of API before getting on this forum, and I have a ton of questions.

It's something for programmers, not users (unless the user also happens to be a programmer).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_programming_interface#Web_APIs

Quote
-Could LC withholding API from smaller investors be an SEC violation? 

"That is the right question."
« Last Edit: August 20, 2013, 09:27:26 AM by yojoakak »

Zach

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2013, 09:58:32 AM »
Could LC withholding API from smaller investors be an SEC violation?

GS, that is a very interesting point, and one that I have not considered before.

Just out of curiosity, do we have any attorneys on the forum?

Any opinions on this?

Rob L

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2013, 10:04:37 AM »
FWIW I found the following interesting http://www.lendacademy.com/forum/index.php?topic=1352.0

core

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2013, 11:59:30 AM »
They could just say it's currently in a non-public alpha testing (perpetually) and you can't require such things to be released to everyone at once.

I doubt it's an SEC violation but it most certainly is a violation of common decency.  Or more succinctly:  "It's complete BS."  That's all I have to say about that.

I say just hammer away at their site with screen scraping until they realize the flaw in their logic and repent for their sins.

berniemadeoff

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2013, 12:06:47 PM »
Somebody needs to start the "ban the API" campaign. 

Many people will be upset (including myself) but it needs to be done!

Fred

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 01:10:32 PM »
Banning the API does not eliminate programmatic LC investing. 

If you noticed some comments in this Forum, some people circumvent LC API to run their program.

TonySaunders

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2013, 01:30:30 PM »
It stands for "Application Programming Interface". What it means is that LC has a way for programs to connect to LC and do things. All the things that you can do through the website (presumably).

The reason is so that programmers can make their own applications for using LC. It can be a stand alone Windows app, or a web app, or a phone app. It could do automated investing, or be an analysis tool, or a filtering aid, or anything else a programmer can dream up. It's a pretty powerful thing.

Based on that other thread, it sounds like it might be accessible to programmers who know what they are doing (http://www.lendacademy.com/forum/index.php?topic=1352.0). I'll check it out.

berniemadeoff

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2013, 01:32:54 PM »
Banning the API does not eliminate programmatic LC investing. 

If you noticed some comments in this Forum, some people circumvent LC API to run their program.

Ban this too.  The only way for LC to get control of this beast is to create a better system that everyone will use and gives no one an advantage.

core

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2013, 01:52:23 PM »
Ban this too.

You can't, at least not without it turning into a witch hunt.  There is no way to tell whether it's a well-written bot or just a human manually reloading the page every 5 seconds.   This would turn into a Barney Fife at LC asking people how they can be on the web site for 12 hours straight without a lunch break.  How long is reasonable?  Me, I don't take lunches.  Maybe I'm one of those fortunate few who don't need to sleep, too.  Yeah that's the ticket.  Obviously if they went to this approach it would be wise to program in an 8 hour "sleep" interval and bathroom breaks.  I could have my bot take up smoking just for realism.

They could put a captcha on all critical site functions.  This would annoy the users and not really accomplish anything anyway.  It costs me 1/10th of a cent to have a foreigner remotely type a captcha which only takes about 8-15 seconds, and I'd gladly eat that cost.  It's pocket change.

TonySaunders

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2013, 02:17:31 PM »
Based on that other thread, it sounds like it might be accessible to programmers who know what they are doing (http://www.lendacademy.com/forum/index.php?topic=1352.0). I'll check it out.

Interesting. I made this tiny Windows application. It looks like this:



When you click the button. It works. It gets version information from the LC API.



Interesting. I wonder what the actual-for-real limits are on this. Maybe the API actually IS available, but you have to have the expertise in order to use it.

EDIT:
You can download this little app at: http://tonysaunders.net/lendacademy/LendingClubApiTest.zip
(Assuming you trust me enough to execute it.)
« Last Edit: August 20, 2013, 02:26:00 PM by TonySaunders »

core

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2013, 02:31:51 PM »
Interesting. I made this tiny Windows application.

How did you do this without API access?  I mean how did you determine what soap request to use to fetch this version info?  Did you download something and peek into the code?

I guess I'm not understanding how you can wonder aloud if the API is available, but at the same time you've already started using it.

TonySaunders

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2013, 02:38:09 PM »
Interesting. I made this tiny Windows application.

How did you do this without API access?  I mean how did you determine what soap request to use to fetch this version info?  Did you download something and peek into the code?

I guess I'm not understanding how you can wonder aloud if the API is available, but at the same time you've already started using it.

There's a document called a WSDL that LC published that describes their API in a way that lets programmers automatically generate code that connects to it. You can actually see the WSDL with your web browser at https://www.lendingclub.com/ws/1.3?wsdl

I didn't do anything for access, didn't talk to LC or anything. All I did was use the WSDL to generate code. Then I wrote 4 lines of code that uses the API to get the version info. It was remarkably easy.

Don't read too much into it yet. I didn't even log in or anything. Perhaps they control access by only allowing certain people to log in via the API. Who knows.

EDIT:
I didn't have to do anything with SOAP. That part is all hidden by the classes I generate from the WSDL. I figured out what objects to create and what methods to call by looking at them and figuring it out. That was the hardest part, actually, but not bad.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2013, 02:42:51 PM by TonySaunders »

core

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2013, 02:45:58 PM »
Ah ok, that answers my question.  Thanks for the info.

I didn't even log in or anything. Perhaps they control access by only allowing certain people to log in via the API. Who knows.

Let me know how you come out when you get farther along.  If you can get logged in, etc.  I'm also curious if there's an API key or something you need to activate.  That would also allow them to track the responsible party regardless of which account was in use -- I hate it when companies do that but I can see why they do.

GS

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Re: What exactly is API?
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2013, 03:20:27 PM »
Thanks for all the replies so far.  I'm still completely confused by API, though.  I've had a little experience with programming ... mostly database front-ends with VB.  So, if I understand correctly, when API access is granted to an institution, LC does not furnish the investor with an open-source stand alone program, the user has to write the program him/herself from scratch?  I'd assume that in order to communicate with the LC computers, you'd have to know the list of commands and expected responses, etc... I don't suppose that it public knowledge. 

I'd have to think that once (or if) API access is made public, the "open source" community will hammer out an API application that can compete with anything.  I'd love be part of that, although I'd probably be next to useless when it comes to efficient coding. 

Would such an app level the playing field, so to speak?