Sharing application programming interface (API) documentation among software companies allows solar installers to piece together the best possible work flow to fit their needs. For example, solar modeling software HOMER Pro has an API integration that allows users to integrate solar configuration data from system design tools HelioScope and PVsyst, and vice versa. Work management tools like Slack and social networks like Facebook offer many API integrations so their platforms can be a home base from which to build an online flow.
“Because everything’s in the cloud now, it’s way more straightforward to build systems that play nicely with each other,” said Folsom Labs co-founder Paul Grana.
That’s why Folsom Labs has shared its API documentation with over 150 companies, some of which are vendors making solar-specific CRMs.
Grana said he thinks probably 50 to 100 of them haven’t actually done anything with the documentation—but he is hopeful about the other chunk of companies that are at least exploring an integration.
Folsom Labs gives the documentation out for free. Once HelioScope is integrated into a new piece of software like HOMER Pro, users have to pay the normal amount to create a HelioScope account.
Grana said the old days of hiring a software team to build custom software to do everything a solar company needs to do are over.
“The idea that you know you’re going to go and buy one program that does everything is just kind of silly, because nothing in life operates like that,” Grana said.
He said people typically don’t choose Google or Microsoft and use that company for every single task they need to accomplish on a computer. Instead, users simply choose the best work flow to get the job done—using whatever tools work best.
API integration allows each of the different specialties of solar software to focus on what it does best.
“Nearmap doesn’t have to learn utility rates, Folsom Labs and Energy Toolbase don’t have to own a fleet of planes, and the customer gets three different teams that are focused on being best in class at those three very different steps of the process,” Grana said.
Though it costs money to use all the different applications, being able to export and import data easily through API integration can cut down on valuable staff time and enable installers to complete more projects more efficiently.