Thoughts on providing a free tier offering for your publicly exposed API

Yair Zaslavsky
2 min readOct 31, 2020
Dandenong ranges, Victoria, Australia

Quite a few computer science graduates ask me for ways to make their CVs stand and impress potential employers.
Grades and GPA is the obvious thing. The more prestigious your institute and the higher your GPA is the better.

This does not mean that those who did not graduate with honors cannot make their CV impressive.
Taking online courses can definitely help, but putting them into practice is way better.

A recent graduate started building a website that will help its users plan vacations. Obviously there are many websites like that, but if that candidate builds the website correctly they can demonstrate passion for coding and learning new technologies.

The graduate told me they are using Google Flights API.
That sounded to me like a natural choice. Google provides a set of APIs for their services for many years. I personally remember generating PNGs of maps more than 13 years ago using their API.

However, they wanted to get data from other well known web sites, but not all of them provide APIs , or if they did the offering involved a licensing model that was too pricy for such such a website that its primary purpose is to help the graduate learn new technologies and create a portfolio that could impress potential employers.

The graduate developer was thinking of using a web scraping technique to obtain the data from a particular web site.
I explained him that online businesses invest engineering resources to prevent Web scraping. In addition, these businesses can change their websites, in a way that would break their project.

Although there are engineering costs for maintaining a free tier offering of an API, my personal belief is that by providing such an offering online businesses can attract not only potential customers, but also attract the developers community, whether they are graduates or more seasoned ones.

An investment in a free tier offering may be fruitful for the business for the long run due to the above reasons, even if there is little immediate gain.