Being in the business of site search, we often get questions about the different ways to set up your search solution. The grey area is with newer clients who are unfamiliar with our unique site search set-up, which is via a script implementation. The script while being an interesting feature from Cludo, is also a novel one since other services are usually based on a traditional API set-up. However, we also offer the option of an API-based search. So it’s no surprise that the usual questions revolve around the difference between these two set-ups and which one is needed. To clear the air around the issue without getting too technical about it, we’ve laid out a simple outline and comparison of the two.
The API or Application Programming Interface, is a defined set of requests that serve as the basis for building a software and application. The API acts like a translator where it transfers communication between the customer’s web server and the search database. As you will learn in this article, an API set-up is a completely manual process in which you as the customer, will have full reign over the development. Sites that usually employ an API-based search are sites that have secure data such as intranets or ones that require user-based logins.
When Should You Use Them
Both API and scripts work just as well based on their application and the needs of your site. Since we offer both kinds of implementations (plus an extra option which we’ll look at later), it is important to understand the differences between these options.
The implementation process for the API is one that is rather time consuming since the set-up is conducted entirely by the developers on your side. Precious development hours have to be spent building your product and designing it. Also, the API isn’t a flexible technology: due to its manual nature, it has to be rebuilt from the ground-up if it needs to be switched to a new CMS system.
How the script trumps the API implementation is in its lightweight simplicity. If you’ve ever used Google Analytics, then we can go ahead and say that setting up Cludo via the script is just like setting up Google Analytics—it’s all a matter of simply copying the script we provide for you, and pasting it in the same place. This applies even if you were to change CMS systems; just paste the old script in the new system and you’re good to go.
2. Customization of data
In terms of customization, the API and the script have rather different capabilities. With the API, you have the freedom to customize the details of data that is being searched. This is especially useful if your site needs special attention in terms of personalization or other context specific features. In this case, you can directly coordinate your needs to your in-house developer. While this gives you full control to monitor what kind of data goes in and what comes out of your search page, the implementation process can consume quite a bit of time and resources on your side. Things also get a bit sticky when your service provider rolls out new feature updates. Due to the manual nature of the API, every new feature update requires a complete reinvention of the whole system, which isn’t so much a debility, but more a tiresome routine.
With the script, we handle the grunt of the development so you don’t have to use your developers as middlemen. The most work you have to do is to insert the script; after that, we handle all the technical details and customization based on what you want out of the search engine. This also means that you save your development team the extra work as with the API. Also, new features and upgrades won’t start a chain reaction of communication between you, the development team, and the service provider. Instead, we just roll it out on our end and make the necessary changes without you having to lift a finger.
Since the API hands you full control of the details of your site search, you have to the ability to design the UI of your site search as you wish. While that offers you the complete freedom to craft it based on your needs and your site’s aesthetics, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time both planning and executing the design.
We handle the design process for the script implementation. Customers have full control to dictate and specify the search engine’s look. In order to ensure that the pages fit your needs and site style exactly, all you have to do is to create a new blank page with your CMS system, and insert a script element in the page just like you would with Google Analytics. Then send us the URL of that blank page, and tell us how you want it designed. We’ll design it to fit your needs and style of your site so you won’t be missing out on quality nor consistency in style.
While API set-ups are often provided at a lower price, you risk accumulating extra costs from the precious development hours spent working on it. Furthermore, additional resources such as the design and maintenance of the system all tend to drag up expenses as time goes by.
With the script, the initial cost may be higher than other solutions. However, the price covers all our services, ensuring that you won’t find yourself hitting an extraneous cost from developers, upgrades, designers, maintenance or support. Having cut out the need for developers and technicians on your side, any issues can be detected and solved by us as soon as they arise, leaving no room for miscommunication or delays, which nobody likes to deal with.
A 3rd Option? API + Script
There is a third way of setting up your site search, and that is through a combination of API and script technology. It combines the best of both options, giving you the ease of application with the script, but control over the development of the page with access to the API. This hybrid solution is usually used for secure sites that require user logins, such as intranet searches.
Between the three options, there really isn’t a single, more superior setup that trumps the rest. The setup you select is based on your needs as an organization and your resources available towards the selected method of implementation. However, if you are looking for an easy solution to this relatively “either/or” puzzle, this is our basic recommendation: if you don’t need a permission-based search engine on your site, then the easiest solution for the setup is via the script approach.
Ready to implement Cludo search? Request a demo today!