+5 votes
in Couriers by (490 points)

Tracking via Australia Post stopped working:  Error loading data!

Tested using the same entries pointing to different couriers and they refreshed successfully.  Set all entries back to Australia Post and crossed fingers.

Australia Post adjusted the API requirements on you ... maybe ?

3 Answers

+2 votes
by (45.9k points)
Best answer

Sorry for the late reply and inconvenience caused.

Unfortunately, Australia Post started to protect their website with a reCAPTCHA a while back which prevents me from using it as a source of data in the app.

While they do offer a tracking API, they limit access to customers that actually ship packages and even then, they impose a limit of 10 requests/minute which obviously isn't close to enough for an app like Deliveries.

This is why the current implementation is as good as it gets until Australia Post changes their stance on third party tracking solutions. crying

by (120 points)
Hi @oRRs: No I didn't hear back from them. So I've just made the same enquiry at https://auspost.com.au/developers/support/contactus (doesn't work via FF, works via Chrome).

 I now see https://auspost.com.au/developers/docs/gettingstarted?id=API-Rate-limits-and-Payment-Tiers

Which says
> To help maintain a fair and consistent service to our developers, we rate-limit the number of endpoint requests that can be made from the same credentials. ... X-RateLimit-Limit-minute: The maximum number of requests that the consumer is permitted to make per minute.

Alas, that's still ambiguous as it is not clear whether "consumer" in this context means a consuming set of credentials (e.g. the rate limit applies to requests through your crentials overall) or individual end users (e.g. the rate limit applies to requests made through each IP and crediential combination).

I suppose I'm in a state of what I might coin as "Paradoxical Suprise". That is, I'd be suprised if they did rate limit accross the API key overall, because that would make any mobile app delivery tracker useless. But I also wouldn' t be suprised to learn of a state bureaucracy (under a hybrid private model) putting in place absurd impediments to information which should be readily accessible.

Beyond that issue it is bad design that they've thrown up unecessary hurdles for developers to get access to their api. Some of which you allude to above. So sympathies with that.

However, might I suggest you attempt to jump through those hurdles (https://developers.auspost.com.au/apis/shipping-and-tracking/getting-started) until you encounter one that is simply too high (that is, not worth your time to jump over, or is simply a block to progress). There's a chance the process is not as daunting as they've made it appear.

Australia Post is (in one important sense) a public institution. Whatever the facts, they *should* be making access to information about this vital public service, in this case tracking info, readily available to any party (providing a service for money or not) helping the public track their packages!
by (45.9k points)
Thanks for the further information.
I've gone as far as I could trying to get back native support for them. Multiple requests to their support still lead to the result that I will not get access at all, unless I'm a business customer that does actual shipping with them (which is impossible from Germany).

Unfortunately, this also means that the "per API key" limit makes at least some sense. It's not a solution to be implemented in public apps that let consumers track their own packages from multiple sellers but to give shops a way to display the current tracking e.g. in the order overview on their website or to send custom notifications for specific shipment statuses. With that in mind, the low limit doesn't seem as absurd anymore, at least not for small to medium shippers.
by (120 points)
Thanks oRR, that's informative.

Yes I agree that a "per API key" limit makes some sense in the context you supply. That is, given the apparent premise that Australia Post are limiting their APIs to "business customer[s] that [do] actual shipping with them".

It is that premise, of course, that is absurd.

There's probably nothing left to do short of a political resolution.

Anyway thanks for a developing such a smooth app. Australia Post issues aside (which are clearly not down to any lack on your part) it's been the only delivery tracking app I've liked. Somewhat suprisingly since in concept a delivery tracking app needs only provide a basic function: periodically interogate an api with a tracking id; download any log entries; throw up a notification. Your app seems to be the only one with a design that gets out of the way to provide that basic function.

In addition I'm grateful for your having kept solving api problems with various postal services as they've continue to break their own api service.

As a matter of curosity are most of your "API" interogations (to various postal services) merely a matter of sending an uncredentialed http request to a normal, user facing, web page and scrapping the html result; or are these mostly formal APIs, with structured xml/json responses?
by (45.9k points)
Thanks for your understanding!

About 99% of postal services do not offer an API and require (fragile and high maintenance) HTML scraping :-(
by (120 points)
Thanks, that's interesting.

Ironically those fragile and high maintenance HTML pages are more accessible than the API in this, Australia Post, case.
+3 votes
Yes stopped working about 4 days ago roughly. Sent in a report, no response at all.
by (490 points)
Yes, that matches my history.  No updates from Tuesday, 06AUG2019, onwards.
0 votes
by (140 points)
Same here. App now absolutely useless to me. I live in Australia, and 99% of my orders are via Aus Post, all orders from eBay and AliExpress come via Aus Post.

No explanation as to why support was removed. Was working fine before.
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