What are rate limits?

Rate limits are a necessary evil in the integration world. In short, rate limits help provide better user experiences by limiting the number of responses to an API. To every light side, there is a dark side.

Techbeacon explains it best:

“If your API becomes overloaded, its performance struggles. Rate limits protect against that by curtailing the number of requests that come into your server. If your API is the target of a malicious DoS (denial-of-service) attack, for example, it can go down entirely. Rate limiting allows API developers to ensure an API will reject requests that exceed a set limit.”

Rate limits help user experiences, but set immediate limitations on it too. It’s the fatal flaw of the hero.

What types of problems do rate limits create for edtech?

  1. To integrate an LMS API, developers need to build a caching system to avoid hitting the API’s rate limit. The development team will spend time defining the best context for how to write the code.
  2. For an effective catching system, the development team will also need to store Personally Identifiable Information (PII). When edtech companies store critical data, they face a security liability.
  3. When API requests reach the rate limit, then a cooldown period needs to pass before it can process more requests. In the meantime, users will twiddle their thumbs waiting to get information they need, at the key moment they need it. Overall, it doesn't make a good user experience.
  4. A good API integration for 1 LMS takes time to develop, company money, and adjustments to scale. To build more than 1 API integration exponentially increases the difficulty of those 3 factors.
  5. Some edtech companies won't face their rate limit foe initially. But to scale, the problem becomes harder to turn away from. For a successful business, this is an inevitable battle that the company will eventually tackle.

How do you defeat the arch-nemesis?

Use an integration partner who has already faced this battle and won (that’s Edlink!). Edlink created a Unified API which allows clients to surpass rate limits and still provides an amazing user experience for the most popular LMS, SIS and IDM integrations. Together with Edlink, clients win each time.

Edlink is a tech partner to educational tech vendors for schools. With our Unified API, we help edtech companies integrate with a school’s set of data providers (think LMSs, SISs, and IDMs) – so other parts of the team can focus on its users at the schools.

Read More on Integration

Here are other articles we’ve written on building integrations to help you on your journey:

If you're looking for a partner who can help guide you through developing LMS integrations (like these), then let’s introduce ourselves. We’re Edlink!