Dear Frontier Developments and Elite: Dangerous team,
I'm writing to you on behalf of a large part of the third party tool developers community and the many thousands of players who use these tools.
Please note that this open letter was written and corrected by multiple authors from the third party tools community.
To get started, let me first introduce myself:
I am AnthorNet, the lead developer on the EDDN project (also ED-TD.space and EDSM.net).
EDDN’s main goal is to provide data on the availability of commodities, modules, and ships in the Elite Dangerous galaxy to third-party websites and tools.
EDDN usually carries around 5,000 messages per day, and cumulatively 2 million messages since May 2015.
The following websites/software use data from EDDN to provide players with ways to find profitable trade routes and to find starports that stock the ships and modules that they want:
- CORIOLIS.io (Monthly: 1M+ views / 80K+ users / 350K sessions)
- EDDB.io (Monthly: 1M+ views / 70K+ users / 280K sessions)
- ED-TD.space (Monthly: 500K+ views / 40K+ users / 100K sessions)
- ELITETRADINGTOOL.co.uk (Monthly: 600K+ views / 50K+ users)
- ETN.io (Monthly: 90K+ views / 25K+ users)
- INARA.cz (Monthly: 1M+ views / 35K+ users / 120K sessions)
- Maddavo Market Share
- ROGUEY.co.uk (Monthly: 500K+ views / 50K+ users / 115k sessions)
- Trade dangerous via Maddavo Market Share (MMS) / EDAPI
The fact that these sites exist and generate a significant number of visitors demonstrates that there is high demand from your player-base for the information and tools that they provide;
information that isn’t provided in an easily discoverable form in-game.
The majority of the data carried by EDDN has been sourced from thousands of individual players using the open API that you created to support your iOS Companion App.
On every update to the core ED game, this API temporarily ceases to be functional which we understand perfectly.
But with the 1.5-2.0 release, the downtime was longer than before, hence our open letter.
A large part of your community was stuck for days and has waited for a statement about the API’s continuation (or not) to come from on your side.
Sadly nothing was said officially, and only random testing by the community lead us to realise that the API was once again back online.
We understand that you are very busy with the improvements to the core game and there is probably not much time left over to concentrate on the API.
Parts of the community responded by reverting to OCR methods to keep the EDDN data at least temporarily updated during the API’s downtime,
but it is noticeable that trade data all but dried up, during the API downtime..
Let's face it, we all know that players prefer to have a one-click method to assist and plan trading than having to juggle with multiple screenshots and potentially misinterpreted OCR data.
With outdated data and/or heavily time-consuming methods to update information (whether locally for just the player in isolation, or the community at large), it will inevitably lead to loss of interest in trading,
because for some people it will also mean that the game/trading will become more inaccessible for them. That also means fewer players in the game, which is something that nobody wants.
Your Companion App API is one intuitive way for players to push data easily to all the community, just like the game’s verbose logging system does for online flight logs.
As mentioned above, EDDN is handling around 5,000 messages per day, it means less amount of requests to your API server (EDDN can handle up to three type of messages for one API call).
Compared to the traffic-levels of the web tools mentioned, we think it's a reasonably marginal number of API requests, and we cannot imagine it should unacceptably stress your servers (but please advise us, if this is the case!)
This recent temporary outage has lead to more pressure from the community for a proper API, and the fear is that not having any sort of API will lead to a loss of motivation
from third party apps developers and bad feeling in the tool-using player community. And we are not talking just about few players, but tens of thousands of them at least.
We also understand that you may be worried that providing a proper API from Frontier Developments may demand a lot of your resources to manage it,
but I and the third party developer community think that you can easily let your community build the management tools for you.
We already done it, and players think we’re doing it well, and there are more alternatives in the tool ‘market’ than they could dream of.
By having EDDN sharing the underlying trade information, the door is even open for new developers to join the adventure.
We hope that our time and effort given into these community sites and tools wasn't wasted and that the Frontier's attitude isn't that such kind of sites are unwelcome - but similarly,
if that is the case, we really would appreciate knowing this now, rather than later, after yet more effort and work has been expended.
But if we are correct in our hope, and if it is true that Frontier does want a vibrant, growing community of third-party tools working around your game for the benefit of loyal and committed players,
please engage with your external development community on the subject of supplying an API for third-party tools that you are happy to officially support us using.
We are here, willing, able and eager, to support you in the advancement of Elite: Dangerous, and we’d love to talk to you!.
- *AnthorNet (EDDN Lead developer, ED-TD.space, EDSM.net)
- *Artie (INARA.cz)
- Biobob (ED-BOARD.net, Co-author EDcodex)
- Cmdr Thrudd (ELITETRADINGTOOL.co.uk)
- *cmmcleod (CORIOLIS.io)
- Eventure (Trade Computer)
- Finwen (EDDiscovery)
- Genar-Hofoen (Captain's Log)
- *Joe113 (ETN.io)
- Maddavo (Maddavo Market Share)
- *Roguey (ROGUEY.co.uk)
- *Themroc (EDDB.io)
- *Wolverine2710 (EDDN initiator, Co-author EDcodex)
PS: I tried to add as much third party tools author as I could, but if I missed you, please forgive me and send me a PM so I can add you to the letter if you feel concerned as we are.
First thanks for your support.
Please keep the topic as clean as possible. We do not want a war between pro/cons about whether third party tools are cheats or not.
We do not enforce their uses.
Some of you have express their feelings that we should not have an instant API of all the data, and I think we agree.
Actually the process we have now is perfectly suitable for us, and even add some gameplays into the game,
think it is some kind of cartographer work being done, where all the data, may not be all up to date.
You may think an API would be some real work from FD, but actually, a simple dump should not take much time to develop,
and we would be able to take care of it the way we already work.
I'll try to add some important quotes in the main topic once I got some time, so they don't fall into the limbo of all those pages.
To third party tools developer willing to sign the letter with us, simply drop me a PM.
Thanks for your answer, it's a start!
We know that holidays can be a busy time (or not at all!), but sincerely I think that this statement is something we already heard multiple times!
I really hope, you or someone else will get back to us with some other things to say, and we deserve it.
You can't always respond with some vaguely statement about something that get so less time to implement as other said.
We're mostly all professional software developers here, so we have a clear statement on how much time some things could take to be implemented.
Some very quick solutions were proposed that would not take time or resources from FD to be implemented.
Specially when all the structures needed by third party tool already exists and can be extended on our side to spread the data.
All things said, it's pretty easy to contact us by email if you prefer to engage in a more constructive dialog in private.
Thanks for your reply, we really appreciate that our thread was review.
Be assured that we are not polling it too much, we always added in the client (EDCE then EDMC) some time out (Actually one minute) to prevent that.
I cannot guarantee that it is the case for other clients I'm not aware of, but I'm not sure they are much there.
EDMC is also open source so we can assure that they are no stollen informations for the player.
It is easier for us to concentrate on one client republishing the informations to EDDN, those every third party developer is able to grab the informations, and your API is not pulled too much.
As usual, if you need private intel about how we use it and what should be corrected in the API, feel free to contact us in private.