Reverb founder (and sewing enthusiast) Erin McKean has long been a fan of Spoonflower, a site that allows people to design, print and sell their own fabric, wallpaper, decals and gift wrap. When Erin found out Spoonflower was looking to use the Wordnik API to build their new tagging feature, it was like a match made in sartorial heaven.
Today we talked to Spoonflower web developer Stephanie Anton to find out more about their new tagging feature and how the site is using the Wordnik API.
How did you find out about the Wordnik API? Why did you choose it?
I went looking for a gem or API that could give me synonyms of a supplied word. I tried a couple other options, but Erin was so helpful with all my questions and really helped jump start the project. Once I found out that she had heard of Spoonflower and ordered fabric from us, I knew we had to use Wordnik.
Did you find the API first, and then decide to make the tagging feature, or did you already have the tagging feature in mind and find the Wordnik API?
The new tagging feature allows a user to add a tag and see a tag strength. Tag strength is a factor of how many designs sold on Spoonflower share this tag and how much the tag is searched for on Spoonflower.
When I was developing the feature, I saw some of the tags I was adding had a pretty low score and I wasn’t sure what other tag to use instead. That’s when I thought to add in a synonym generator to give people suggestions and started searching for something that would fill that need. We posted a screen shot and explanation of the changes on our blog.
What surprised you most about the API?
I was excited about the different kinds of synonyms that Wordnik had available such as related words and same context. Sometimes a direct synonym didn’t really work when describing a design, but the other options allowed us to bring back a better list to supply options to our customers.
What other APIs do you use? What frameworks/languages, etc.?
We use Github and Zendesk APIs for back-end administrative needs, but this is the first API we have used for the benefit of our customers. We have used several different kinds of Ruby gems (Spoonflower is developed using Ruby on Rails) and plugins.
What advice do you have for others using the API?
Make sure to completely explore the developer website! I missed the ability to curl at first, but once I found that it was smooth sailing.
Final question: Swagger, best thing since sliced bread, or best thing ever?
I’d never used Swagger before, but it was incredibly helpful when I was figuring out exactly what I wanted to bring back.