Exploring The Future of the WooCommerce Web API

WooCommerce has a powerful Web API: it contains all the different HTTP endpoints that enable integrations of WooCommerce stores with other applications over the internet. Yet, we believe there is still untapped potential here, and that evolving the Web API can unlock many additional opportunities for developers in the WooCommerce ecosystem.

Insights from our developer community

To learn more about the needs and wants of our developer community, we recently sent out a survey asking developers how they’re using the Web API and what would make it better. In parallel, we analyzed all the open API-related issues in the WooCommerce GitHub repository. This post summarizes our findings.

  • Survey findings: We received survey responses from a relatively modest group, but many respondents took the time to add useful details, for which we’re very grateful. Many said they liked how extensible the system is, and that it had most or all of the functionality they needed. We also heard that the documentation is comprehensive and useful, although we also got several suggestions for improvement (more on that below).
  • GitHub analysis: There were 156 GitHub issues related to the REST API at the time of our analysis. 49 of them were categorized as bugs, while 75 were potential enhancements. 19 of the issues were labeled as high priority. 

Key areas for improvement

After sifting through both the survey responses and the GitHub issues, we were able to sort feedback into a few different general categories. These define the areas where there seems to be the most room for improvement.

  1. Enhanced functionality: This was the largest category, as there are lots of specific things that people would like to be able to do that are currently not possible. This includes things like fetching certain kinds of data, writing certain kinds of data, doing complex operations on some data types (such as orders), and running some specific calculations. The most pertinent need here was for filtering, searching, and receiving data in a more flexible manner. 
  2. Boosted reliability: This category includes feedback about the API not behaving in an expected way, such as returning certain data in the wrong format, or causing side effects when changing something. It also includes feedback about error handling, such as inscrutable error messages, or missing notifications about errors. One detailed comment contained a lot of interesting ideas for improvements to the way WooCommerce enables users to observe and manage webhooks.
  3. Efficiency optimizations: Unlike the “enhanced functionality” category, this one is about things that are currently possible, but only in a roundabout way, or about only needing one data field out of a huge response object, or needing to make several separate requests to perform a specific action. It also includes performance-related feedback about slow queries and caching.
  4. Refined documentation: Even though some people think the documentation is fantastic, many others pointed out deficiencies. These include missing or outdated information, a lack of relevant examples, and performance issues with the documentation site itself.
  5. Advanced authentication and permissions: Several people wished for either more comprehensive authentication options, or more granular control of permissions for reading and writing data.

Shaping our next steps

As you can see, there isn’t a single predominant issue here or a clear path to a new version of the API for us to immediately start working on. 

As we evaluate our options, we’re faced with strategic decisions on how best to allocate our resources for maximum impact. Whether through incremental improvements or significant overhauls, our commitment is to evolve the API in alignment with your needs and our collective goals.

We’re still in the process of defining our exact path forward, but rest assured, your input is shaping our journey. We’ll continue to update you as we progress, ensuring the WooCommerce Web API not only meets but exceeds your expectations.

Stay connected, and thank you for your continued partnership and feedback.

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