How To Lose A Developer In 60 Seconds (Strava)

Last week I was faced with the situation every developer dreads. Software I author, Strava Integrator, had it’s API access to a third party service terminated. On July 1st each and every Strava Integrator user (myself included) received nothing more than a blank page. The reason? Strava decided to abandon it’s developers.

To understand the situation I have to provide a bit of back information. In August 2012 I was contacted by a member of the Strava engineering team, Craig Peters. Craig discovered Strava Integrator while surfing the web and reached out to me about an upcoming version of their API–version 3. He commented how Strava Integrator was an interesting use of the API and asked if I was interested in being included in a mailing list pertaining to future API development. He also offered that the version 1 and version 2 API’s that Strava Integrator utilized were going to be discontinued once the version 3 API was released. The email I received from Craig made no mention of a limited number of developers being offered access to the new API nor did it indicate that Strava Integrator or myself were in danger of having API access denied. I quickly replied stating that I would like to be included in the communications and I asked a few questions about the future plans. That was the last I heard from anyone at Strava. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. I again tried contacting Craig, but that email also went unanswered. On July 1st Strava’s decision became apparent. Strava Integrator was not part of the Strava road map. With the termination of the version 1 and version 2 API’s and Strava’s decision to omit Strava Integrator from version 3 API, Strava has effectively killed off Strava Integrator–leaving its users without a spare tube for their flat.

If this situation sounds familiar that’s because it is. Twitter made the same decision last year. There is, of course, one major difference. Twitter has an enormous user base. The lack of client and developer choices has alienated Twitter’s early adopters but it has had little effect on the service’s use or user base. Strava, with a user base only a fraction the size of Twitter, has taken on the average developer and rendered countless pieces of software inoperable. Based on the feedback I’ve received from Strava Integrator’s user base, Strava users are extremely unhappy with the decisions surrounding the version 3 API. With a community as small and as tightly knit as Strava I have to wonder how this move will affect the Strava’s bottom line. How many developers are lost forever? How many users will flee? To give you an idea of what I mean–I chose Strava because of their API and the ability to develop custom applications to better integrate their service with my personal website (Strava Integrator started out as a private venture). I was personally responsible for bringing roughly 14 people to Strava. Now I’m looking to competitors. Once I find one I like–one with an API I can access–I will develop software similar to Strava Integrator for the new service. Then I’ll push the very people I brought to Strava over to the new service. Strava might only lose 15 users in this example but lets consider what happens if every user of Strava Integrator does the same thing? Strava could lose thousands of users. I just don’t see how it’s a wise decision to alienate a user base over a decision as selfish as restricted API access.

I sincerely hope Strava revisits their decision to terminate API access for software like Strava Integrator. Developers like myself help grow services like Strava only to be stabbed in the back. While all hope is not lost, the outlook seems bleak. All I can do at this point is offer my sincerest apologies to my user base. Perhaps with enough of an outcry from the Strava Integrator user base we’ll win access to the Strava API once again. For now I’d recommend that you contact Strava engineering and express your dismay. You can reach the general Strava developer mailbox at developers@strava.com and the lead API developer, Craig Peters Sarah Kuehnle, at sarah@strava.com. To read up on past and future developments check out the Strava engineering blog at: http://engineering.strava.com/

Update 7-09-2013 10:20pm: I was contacted by Craig Peters who informed me he is no longer employed by Strava. It would appear as though the terms of his departure prevent him from commenting on the details of this post.
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4 Responses to How To Lose A Developer In 60 Seconds (Strava)

  1. > You lose all the segment stuff though.

    That is the wicked addictive attractive thing about Strava. They are doing some strange things, removing features, and upsetting developers, but until that feature is copied by MapMyRide (I thiink that they are on to it) or someone, the segments thing is too attractive to miss.

  2. I’ve come across several posts like this regarding Strava’s API shutdown, in addition to my own: http://www.foell.org/justin/garmin-mapsource-in-linux-wine/#strava

    Have you found a new outlet for people wanting to track rides/runs? I was hoping Garmin Connect would be a nice fit but their API is “coming soon.”

    I’ve thought about starting a petition to Strava, but I doubt it would help. One thing is for sure: the time for disruption is now!