The Social Media SudokuImage by Lukadium via Flickr

You know someone is going to compare the two APIs from Mixx and Digg. I figured I should give it a try as a complete Mixx zealot 🙂 I have used both APIs recently so I have applicable experience in the matter as well. The development of YackTrack did not require extensive use of either API, but I did need to read and test various methods in order to understand which API call would work best for my needs. I am going to compare some of the basic API calls for each. Obviously, we need a way to get at the main submission information. We also need to get the comments for a particular story. We should be able to get some level of social media information, like the submitter, the number of votes and comments, etc. We need to compare the site specific topology, tags and categories for Mixx, and topics and containers for Digg. There are also user based APIs to look at. Lastly, the read and write possibilities for each API and the general format availability.

Submissions

Obviously, both APIs have calls for story submissions. Digg actually calls their submissions “stories” or “galleryphotos” where Mixx uses the more generic “thingy”. Mixx gets a quick nod for a standard API for all of their content. Digg obviously suffered from adding photos after they got popular. Both APIs allow you to get the popular stories, so no edge there. Digg also allows you to get the popular stories within a topic or a container. Mixx does not have that at this point, edge Digg. Both services allow you to get a story from the URL as well as the submission ID. From the basic submission stance, it is still even.

Comments

Again, both APIs have ways to get the comments. However, Mixx has it baked into the API for getting story information. Digg requires two API calls to get what you want. First, you get the submission ID for the information you want. Then you call the story API requesting comments for the specific submission ID. Mixx wins here as their request for comments is the same API as the submission, but with the comment parameter set to 1. Big edge to Mixx for simplicity.

Social Media Information

Both sites return the number of votes, number of comments and the submitter for a submission. Digg gets a nod for including the topic and container information for a submission. Mixx gets a nod for including other media information, like a link to the thumbnail and a direct link to an image even if it just exists on the submitted page. Overall, social media information is even.

Site Specific Information

Mixx has a separate API for their tag structures which is almost like a keyword search. However, there is no API for their categories. So, you cannot find what is popular in the Tech category on Mixx. Digg has APIs to give you the list of topics or containers, as well as getting the submissions within specific topics or containers. The flexibility of the Digg API here is rather huge. I am not sure what it would be used for, but that is not the point here. So, big edge for Digg.

UPDATE: According to Bill at Mixx:

Mixx actually does offer [what is popular in the Tech category], we just didn’t do a very good job of telling anyone. In our data categories and tags are the same thing, so you can actually retrieve items from a specific category using our tags service. Thanks for pointing this out. I’ve updated the documentation to describe this behavior.

User Information

For users, Mixx has APIs for “leaders”, a user’s favorites, most recent 20 submissions, and profile information. Not much else is really needed for an API. Digg slips a bit here as they have profile information, friends and fans of a user. Mixx supports those through XFN. Surprisingly, an edge for Mixx here.

Other Goodies

Mixx only supplies a custom XML format at this time. My understanding from the Mixx team is the a JSON format will be available soon as it is high on their priority list. Digg supports a custom XML format, JSON, Javascript, using a callback parameter, and serialized PHP. That gives Digg a serious edge so far. Otherwise, there are no other “goodies” in the API. However, Mixx starts out with a fully writable API. They allow you to “presubmit”, the equivalent of submitting a URL to the site, submit the description, tag and category information, and add comments. Sorry Digg, but Mixx has a huge edge there.

And the winner is…

Submissions, even. Comments, Mixx. Social Media, even. Site Specific, Digg. User Information, Mixx. Other Goodies, Mixx. Based on a simple comparison, it really does look like Mixx is the winner of the first API war. More interestingly, this is the first version of the Mixx API, so there is still plenty of room to grow. Congratulations Mixx, keep on stirring it up!