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I've been searching through SE-Meta and,from what I can gather, the general consensus is that questions that ask for API & Framework recommendations that can help solve a particular problem are typically marked as "Too Localized" or "Off Topic". I can understand this reasoning because posting answers to these questions can be problematic. One of the big reasons (which I do agree with) is that as time progresses, an API can lose support or better APIs could come along and initial answers may become invalid.

Yet, as a developer, I need to find an API or Framework for a specific need in which I'm not to familiar with and having a good recommendation from an expert is invaluable. Of course, in such a case I start by Googling associated keywords and I tack on "API" to the end of my search. This usually helps but it doesn't always provide useful results. For specific needs, it can be difficult to even get a result for an API or framework.

Even worse, there have been occasions where I have found an API, started to use it, and after a month or two of getting my bearings with the API, I'd find out that another API exists, which almost all other developers use and is a considerably better API choice! Have an expert or two recommend an API could have saved me weeks (or possibly months) of work if I had started out with the best tool for the job.

With that stated, within the Stack Exchange community is there any away that a user can ask for API recommendations? It doesn't have to be on Stack Overflow. If such questions are acceptable on Stack Overflow, what guidelines dictate which API recommendation requests are acceptable and which are not? I'm a bit confused but I'd imagine there is a way within SE that I can get these types of questions answered by those who are quite familiar within the area of my new development needs.

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There's an API Finder Area51 proposal that might be exactly what you're looking for. Doesn't really seem like a good fit for the Stack Exchange format though... – Yannis Jun 5 '12 at 16:33
@YannisRizos Thanks for sharing that link! – JimmyPena Jun 5 '12 at 17:43
Yes, agreed. I'm now following it and I've posted a question for the API I'm looking for. – RLH Jun 5 '12 at 18:08
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The focus of your question should be on the problem you're trying to solve, not on the solution you've already decided on. Instead of asking for recommendations for an API or framework that solves your problem, describe your problem in detail and ask for solutions. Yes, you will get some "roll-your-own" solutions, but if there's an API or framework in common use that solves your problem it will almost certainly be suggested as well.

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I sort of agree with this statement but some times the question regarding your specific need is, itself, to broad. As an example, my current need that facilitated this question is in regards to procedural graphics generation for iOS devices. I can't find an API that provides such functionality and though I'm aware of the topic (including the associated trade-offs when using such a technique), I have no clue about the details of generating graphics on-the-fly. Using an API is a good start but I'd like to receive recommendations since finding one has been tough. – RLH Jun 5 '12 at 17:07

I would say that within SO/SE there is no such place. You will always end up asking for recommendations (which we don't really do) or "lists of", which is not a good fit either.

As you say, most such questions will be closed as "off-topic" or "not constructive" or perhaps even "too localized". It's simply not a good fit, no matter how useful the information might be to you.

Perhaps a topic-relevant chat might be a proper venue, but be sure to ask first.

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I had thought about asking in chat but my fear was that the scope of those listening may be a bit to narrow-- not everyone uses or listens to the chat lines. – RLH Jun 5 '12 at 16:39

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