When you’re looking to create a weather app, one of the first decisions you need to make is which weather API to use. This post is here to help you do just that!
The first step in choosing a weather forecast API is deciding what kind of data you want your app to display. Do you just need the current temperature and weather conditions? Or do you also want forecasts for the next 24 hours? And if so, how far into the future are you interested in going?
You’ll also need to consider what format of data will work best for your app—there are several options available, including JSON, XML and RSS feeds.
When it comes down to it, choosing a weather API can be overwhelming because there are so many factors involved—you might even feel like there’s no way to know which one will be right for your project. But don’t worry! We’ve got some tips below that should help point you in the right direction.
What are the different weather data types? And how often is each data point updated? Weather APIs collect a lot of different kinds of data. Intervals for how often a particular API updates its information range from every two hours to several times per minute.
Measurements involving meteorology and atmospheric conditions can vary widely even over short distances, so it’s important to know what kind of coverage is offered by an API provider. You may want access to forecasts for 10 major cities, or you may need detailed measurements from thousands of weather stations around the world—it all depends on your project.
Data types include temperature (min/max), rainfall, wind speed/direction, humidity/dewpoint, snow cover/depth and cloud cover. Most providers will offer some combination of these variables and associated metadata. The frequency with which data points are collected plays a role in determining costs for API usage.
Reliability and Uptime
As your app grows, uptime is going to be a big concern. It’s no secret that an API service can go down. However, the weather APIs with impressive reliability and uptime can provide you with consistent data so long as the weather is behaving itself.
The best way to decide if the API provider meets your standards for reliability and uptime is by checking its Service Level Agreement (SLA). The SLA will show you how many nines of availability it promises in a month, year, or some other period of time.
For example, 99.99% availability means that there could be downtime as long as 4 minutes per month or 46 minutes per year. 99% availability would allow nearly five hours of downtime each year while 99.9% availability would allow just shy of 53 minutes each year.
What sort of pricing model do you need? This will ultimately depend on your intended use case, but as a general rule, APIs that have more features or granular endpoints are going to be more expensive. This makes sense because they’re either charging you for more information or for higher-quality services.
If you’re looking for a free API that delivers the basic data at a high level (say, the temperature in your city), nothing beats OpenWeatherMap. It’s free and easy to use with solid documentation and a background IP geolocation service—meaning all you have to do is plug in your own IP address and it’ll automatically return the weather conditions from your current location.
However, if you want something more detailed like weather forecasts over time, you’ll probably have to go with a paid solution. These options deliver weather analytics, which means they can give you insights into things like precipitation levels over time, expected snowfall this winter season, and so on.
One additional consideration when deciding whether to go with a free solution versus a paid one is data coverage: the number of locations covered by an API’s endpoints. Paid APIs tend to cover larger geographical areas than their free counterparts; however, this isn’t always true across all vendors.
Customization and Documentation
When you’re choosing an API, you’ll want to find one that offers documentation–and better yet, documentation that is clear, easy to follow, and written in the programming language of your choice. Once you’ve set up your API key on the provider’s website and are ready to use it in your project, you’ll want to be able to add it with a minimum of fuss (remember: not all APIs are free!).
In addition, when you’re making an API call from your project, ideally the output will be customizable so you can get just what you need out of it. For example, if we’re building a weather app for our clients’ users in San Francisco and we’re using a python-based weather API like Dark Sky, then we’d probably want to return our results as JSON data formatted into dictionaries or lists before showing them on our page.
Ease of Integration
The next thing you should consider when choosing a weather API is how easy it will be to integrate that API into your website, app, or other projects. First and foremost, you should take a look at the documentation for the weather API. Does it seem very detailed and comprehensive? You should also see if there are examples of how to use the endpoints in the documentation.
If an API doesn’t have very detailed documentation (and/or helpful example code) then it will probably be harder for you to use that API than one with better documentation. The documentation is also where you will often find out what type of interface (RESTful or SOAP) a specific weather API uses.
In most cases, you won’t need to worry about whether a certain weather API has a RESTful or SOAP interface because they are so similar in terms of ease of use and functionality. However, if the language that you plan on using can only interact with one type of interface (for example, PHP can only communicate with RESTful APIs), then this would be something important for you to keep in mind before choosing an appropriate weather API for your project.
Finally, some developers may choose to select a cloud-based weather service over others because they don’t want to worry about having their app or web service go down unexpectedly when relying on free services like those two mentioned above.
Choosing a weather API is an important decision for your business. The weather affects the way people behave and impacts businesses. People won’t take their boats out if it is going to rain, so marine retailers see sales go down on days with forecasted rain. Hotels have less demand when it is hot outside, so they discount rooms during heat waves to fill inventory.
Weather data also impacts how people behave to prevent bad weather from impacting them, such as buying umbrellas before it rains or taking a snow day if there is a blizzard outside. Companies can use this information to personalize their customer experiences by offering relevant products or services based on the local weather conditions.
When looking for a weather API for your business, consider these five aspects of the service.