For over five years Onboard has been offering our “Listings Search Engine” API as a way for innovative companies to access IDX data without the management and maintenance hassles. Over that time we’ve tried to keep up with changes in the market and the various ways consumer want to interact with listings data. For the past few months we’ve been working on a number of updates that I’d like to share; but first, a little background. Onboard’s listings API was the first-ever API in the industry to provide real-time access to listings with a comprehensive search layer built in. When we initially launched the product (Beta in October 2008 and Commercial launch in June of 2009) we had a pretty basic set of capabilities and an even more basic understanding of what developers really wanted to do with it. Many years and some ups and downs later the API has evolved just as technology and the industry has overall.
This latest release brings together a collection of client requests plus some newly available data and new Onboard capabilities to push things forward once again.
One thing we’ve learned is that consumers like to search in some pretty ordinary ways typically. But they like to filter and sort results in some very unique ways once that have a set of listings. So we’ve made some improvements to both the data and capabilities on this front. There are now 25 different fields that can be used for filtering and sorting search results including things like distance from a desired starting point, distance to nearest transit, neighborhood name, average school rating and even specific school name in addition to the typical beds, baths, price and more. This flexibility will allow developers to create a simple up front search while still putting power into users’ hands once they have a set of results.
Another thing we’ve heard plenty is that consumers want to see BIG photos. So we’ve addressed that too. It’s now possible to pull original, high-resolution photos for any property that has quality photos. These images are full scale with no modifications so the client application or browser will need to deal with scaling. Images do get very large, but they will certainly provide a wow factor for high-def sites.
We’ve made changes to nearly every search method as well. It’s now easier to find listings that have had a price change, status change or an open house coming up. Users will now be able to more easily search using lifestyle content such as school attendance zones and districts; nearby transit, parks and schools; specific neighborhoods; along with existing features like search based on commute time.
We’ve also streamlined the API lookups to provide more information in each response. For example, it’s now simple to find out how many listings there are in a specific neighborhood, city, school district or attendance zone. Or what geographic areas have active listings within a certain MLS. These types of lookups help to create a rich user experience to guide consumers down paths where you know there will be answers.
A lot of the work we’ve done in this release has really been about refining the experience with the API and the data. Great relationships plus open dialog yields positive results. I hope those of you that check it out will agree!
I’ve covered the highlights but please feel free to reach out to us for more details, We’re happy to walk through it with you so you can see for yourself.