Finding a Quality Address Validation API

The "Fast Lane" Answer

To find a quality address validation API, you need to understand that address validators don't aggregate their own data. We get our information from someone else's list. Kind of like fire trucks—we don't bring the water, we just put it to good use. So the quality of an address validator has less to do with what we might call the purity of the water, which is pretty universal, and more to do with how well we share what's coming through the hose. And the weapon of choice for blasting that water through the hose is an Application Program Interface, or API for short.

This article talks about APIs more generally (what they are, what separates the good from the bad, etc.). Some qualities, however, are unique to the industry of address validation, and they can make or break an address validation API. First of all, an address validation API must standardize an address prior to validating it. That means the API is performing two functions instead of one. After that, there's the consideration of how the API executes both of those functions.

Some features are variables that depend on your needs and budget constraints. Some, however, are measures of excellence that divide the sprinklers from the fire hoses. Here's a shortlist of things to consider when looking for a quality address validation API:

In short, a good address validation API will simply be a good API. If it does its job, integrates well into your systems, and doesn't break down often, you're off to a good start.

The "Scenic Route" Answer

What to Look For

Like any other API, it's wise to know something about the quality of a validation API before you commit to one. Because it's the combination of a tool and a service, both the validation and the API will have qualities unique to them, and both must be reputable for the final product to be worth using.

There are, however, some qualities unique to validation APIs that can help you identify whether what you're looking at is worth its salt or not. They break down into two major sections. The first section is "Standardization," the process by which addresses are cleaned up and prepared for validation, and the second is "Validation," where the addresses are actually checked for validity.

Standardization Requirements
Validation Requirements

What do I do now?

This list is a baseline. APIs that don't meet most of the requirements on this list are just not pumping out enough water to put out the fire, so to speak. There are attributes beyond this, as mentioned before, like speed, turnaround time, breadth of supplemental information etc. These things all become more applicable once individual needs are taken into account. But even if the API you're looking at has power windows and an attachment for making pasta, if it doesn't meet the standards above, it's not making the cut. If it can't do the basic, simple things well, how is it going to juggle all the fancy bells and whistles?

That's how you know you've got a good one. Simple first. Extravagant later.

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