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The Geckoboard Platform: A Beginner’s Guide to the Geckoboard API

Jess Erickson
by

February 03, 2011

Welcome Geckoboard to the 500 Startups family! Geckoboard just launched out of beta and announced their seed round today. This post below was originally published on the Geckoboard Blog.

If you’ve been following Geckoboard for any period of time you’ll know that we’re always adding connections to new services.  With so many great services out there we’ve recently expanded the development team (again) so we can crank more widgets even faster while the requests keep rolling in.  We’ll always keep adding new widgets (keep an eye on the blog tomorrow for more announcements) but today I wanted to talk to you about another way of getting your data on your Geckoboard status board even when we don’t have a connection to it.

Your data is locked up in many different places, whether it’s in third party applications or in your own database or servers, our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to see that on your Geckoboard and part of that strategy is to make the Geckoboard API as easy and as flexible as possible.  Wait!  Before your eyes glaze over I want to show you how to get key information onto your status board in a few easy steps using the Geckoboard API.

How it works:

It’s a pretty straightforward process.

    1. Create a document in a format that Geckoboard understands

 

  • Configure a custom widget to read from that document at a regular interval

 

 

Example:

Let’s say you want to display how many people visited your shop today and compare it to yesterday’s number.  As long as you can capture that information somewhere you’ll be able to display it on your Geckoboard.  In this case, we know that 238 people visited yesterday but only 123 visited today.  You need to put those 2 numbers into a document that Geckoboard understands; we’ve got examples of the different document formats in the API section of the support forum.  Here we want to show today’s value and the change since yesterday so we’re going to choose the Number and secondary stat widget type.  Here’s the format:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?> <root> <item> <value>123</value> <text></text> </item> <item> <value>238 <text></text> </item> </root>

If you’re not used to XML this might look a bit intimidating but don’t worry, we’re only interested in 2 parts of this document, the number for yesterday’s visitors and then number for today’s.  Simply copy the text into a new text document then substitute your numbers as shown in diagram below.

 

You then need to save the document to a location that Geckoboard can read it from.  This is typically somewhere on you own web server or some publicly accesible site.  In this example I’m going to use the public folder of my free Dropbox account.  You can see the document here.

All that’s left is to configure a new custom widget on my Geckoboard status board to display this data.

Add widget >> Custom Widget >> Number & Secondary Stat

And configure as follows:

URL data feed:  The address where your document can be reached

API Key: Empty

Widget type: Custom

Feed format: XML

Reload time (mins): 60

Label: Today’s visitors (or whatever you want).

 

Then just click “Add to dashboard” and you should have something like this:

 

That concludes the introduction to the Geckoboard API, we’ve covered the fundamentals but barely scratched the surface.  In the next instalment I’m going to round up the existing wrappers and scripts aimed at making automated scripts easier on the platform of your choice.  In the meantime, if you’ve already used the API we’d love to hear from you.  What problem were you trying to solve?  How easy or difficult was it?]]–>

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