While working on Pitchbrite, my latest web development project, I had the chance to work with the Linkedin API extensively. The LinkedIn API proved to be a unique challenge, in comparison the Twitter API and Facebook API, which seemed like a summer breeze. Below are a few observations regarding my experiences with the Linkedin API, written in an easy to understand manner from a business owner’s point of view:

  • The LinkedIn API has got some very fierce limits, which makes developing Linkedin API applications quite tricky. However, it starts making sense once your developer gets the hang of it, which should require a big time investment for a first-time LinkedIn API developer . The limit can always be raised, by filling a request for additional API access form.
  • In contrast to the Facebook and Twitter API, LinkedIn API is quite strict regarding to data storage, as mentioned on their platform guidelines page. You are only allowed to store data as long as the user is on your website. In other words, you will need to grab the data every time the user visits your website. There are two exceptions to that:
    • The profile data of the user who has authenticated your application. However, you will need to explicitly inform the user that you’re going to store the data, and he needs to approve it.
    • The user IDs for profiles other than the user who has authenticated the application. These IDs are unique to your application, and are different from the IDs you find on their website. Linkedin has unique IDs for each application, in order to make sure that the list of IDs a user owns become useless, in case they terminate their application. This is mostly to prevent spammers and data collectors from creating thousands of applications, and collecting the data and spamming those users.
  • LinkedIn API doesn’t allow you to expose one user’s data to another one. LinkedIn argues that each user’s network view is unique to them, and should be kept that way on the LinkedIn website, and on any other third-party applications as well. I strongly agree with that point, since this greatly respects my privacy as a user.

I hope this sheds some light on the LinkedIn API from a non-technical point of view. I haven’t seen much articles on the web covering this subject. Feel free to comment if you have got any questions/clarifications.