JUMP TO:

A look at how Strava has begun cutting off your data access and removing functionality

Strava

(2014 Update: Just as a heads up that on January 6th, 2014 Strava remedied many of the items I discussed here.  While many changes/reverting came sooner in that six month gap since initial publishing of this post, it all became official above.)

I’ve long argued for unfettered access to your data.  If you created the data, you should own it.  In the case of sports technology, this means that if you upload data to a platform or application, then you own the right to export that data later down the road and interact with it as you please.  In the last few years I think the industry has made great progress in this area.  Device manufactures have gone to great lengths to largely standardize on just a few file format standards, and in turn, platforms have not only streamlined supporting those platforms, but allowing you to freely and easily move your data down the road.

At the same time, I’ve also argued that sports technology companies should be as open and interoperable as possible.  This means that they should offer 3rd party developers the ability to take that data with your permission (at your request) and effectively ‘do cool things’ with it.  Hundreds – if not thousands – of applications have done that thus far across a wide range of platforms, resulting in amazingly innovative ideas across the sports technology genre.  Even some of the most isolated companies within the space have done that, for example, the walled garden of the Nike+ platform has opened up in the last year to allow more friendly operability.

For those not familiar with Strava, the hugely popular platform has been primarily targeted at cyclists, and enables analytics of your training and racing data.  It focuses on allowing you to upload from your own device (or the Strava app) to the site, where it shows you your performance against others within a given ‘segment’ – or basically a small chunk of a course or route.

image

As we turn to look at Strava and the integration I talked about above, we’ve seen probably the most unique innovation coming out of these 3rd party companies leveraging Strava activities in the form of people taking ‘big data’ style approaches to analytics of data.  For example the heat maps and ride analytics coming from RaceShape that I posted about nearly a month ago.

Except, all that great work has pretty much come to a screeching halt for Strava users over the last two weeks with one sweeping change, and then a series of smaller changes over the proceeding months.  Let’s dive into what exactly this means for you.

Strava decides 3rd party partners are no longer friends, kills app access

Tshirt

Effective July 1st, Strava disabled access for 3rd party apps to connect to Strava data for the vast majority of 3rd party apps on the market.  What are 3rd party apps?  Simply put, they are ones developed by other companies to interact with Strava services.  For example, the ability for Wahoo Fitness to upload directly to Strava, or for various Android apps to upload to Strava.  Applications do this through what’s called an API (Application Programming Interface), or essentially a way to communicate with Strava as a site from a programming standpoint.  Virtually every technology platform on earth has API’s (or similar methods) to connect to them, be it Strava, Garmin, Apple, or Microsoft.  Everyone.  The degree to which API’s are offered varies from company to company.

Over time API’s tend to evolve, like any other bit of technology.  Typically features are added over the course of a platform, but occasionally features are removed (deprecated is the fancy industry term for that).  When features are deprecated, companies tend to give significant notice as to allow other companies to update systems in time.  Depending on the size of the user base, this ranges from months to years (yes, years).  That’s simply recognition of the fact that other companies have software release cycles that may not be immediate (after all, quality software takes time).

In the case of Strava, they’ve previously had what they refer to as v1 and v2 (version 1 and version 2) of their API.  As many Strava application developers will tell you, this API was far from perfect, but it did the trick.  That was until the trick stopped working.  Back on May 3rd, Strava posted to their engineering blog that they’d be disabling access to their platform via the v1/v2 API’s (the only way you could access the platform), and in turn, they’d put in place a v3 variant.  That disablement would happen less than 30 days later on June 1st.

The trick was, that unlike the past, they’d now be limiting access to who could talk to Strava by requiring applications to register.  Requiring applications to register is hardly unheard of, in fact, many other applications do so.  Strava reasoned they had to do it to control flow of data, as CTO (Chief Technology Officer) Mark Shaw explained:

“We’ve learned supporting an API takes work and requires commitment from teams across the company. We also knew we had to change the very structure of our V1/V2 API – what began as an internal, hidden “feature” back in early 2010 was being widely used yet we had no good way to measure or control its usage. In some cases it was even being abused, e.g. data was being gathered indiscriminately in bulk. With V3 we’re requiring that applications register and identify themselves, allowing us to properly gauge and meter usage.”

At first, application developers figured this was a good thing – perhaps an improvement to Strava access.  So they went ahead and applied for access to the v3 API.  Except, nobody heard anything.  As June 1st neared, there was still silence from Strava’s side.  On May 28th, Strava decided to give everyone breathing room by pushing disablement back to July 1st.  Except, in that same blog post came more detail that wasn’t previously there.  Strava started off with (bolding mine):

“We strive to provide athletes with the most motivating and fun environment for training and sharing activities. To keep this focus, we’ve had to make a hard choice this year between investing in our features and making the API broadly available….This means that as we roll out our latest version of the API, version 3, we will have to limit the amount of developers who have access to it, as well as discontinue V1 and V2 APIs on June 30, 2013. Libraries, sites, and applications that use V1 and V2 endpoints will cease to work as the underlying API endpoints will no longer be available. By delaying the retirement of V1 and V2 of the API until June 30, we hope to give you sufficient time for you to make alternative arrangements should you be impacted.”

In other words, they’re making a list, and if you’re not on it – tough luck.  Now, the second half of the engineering team post included one final line of what would be allowed or not allowed:

What we can’t allow:  Replicating Strava functionality”

Except, there was little clarity on what this meant exactly.  After all, there’s bound to be some overlap in any applications in order to enhance the experience.  For example, would including the display of a users segment time be considered replicated functionality?  I asked Strava for clarity on how they made this determination, and received the following:

“We encourage applications that enrich and enhance the Strava community, not take the community somewhere else. Once we have a team in place around our API program we’ll provide clear guidelines and the right level of support to our developer community (one of the reasons we’re rolling V3 out slowly, so that we can better comprehend its use cases).”

To put this in simple English: They have no idea yet.

Ok, no worries, surely they would be allowing access to all of the developers who have thus far gotten Strava to where it is today.  Turns out no so much.  Many developers started to get worried as June wore on, and only a handful of applications had received instructions for using the new v3 API.  The rest of the applications instead received the sound of silence.  When these applications inquired and/or posted questions to the Engineering team blog they were selectively deleted, and then ultimately, comments were turned off entirely.  Clearly a case of “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

And that message couldn’t come any clearer.  On July 1st, applications were cutoff.  This impacted almost every application out there except RaceShape and Veloviewer.  Even major companies like Wahoo Fitness and CycleOps (PowerTap) were caught up in the denied access front.  Wahoo was lucky in that they were able to sort out their access issue within a few days.  Unfortunately, other companies weren’t – some with tens of thousands of installs.  Here’s the list as I know it of apps that broke on July 1st:

- ipBike (Android)
Golden Cheetah (Mac/PC)
iSmoothRun (iPhone)
Cycling Analytics (Web)
Chaser (Windows Phone 8)
PerfPro (Windows)
DigitFit (iPhone)
CycloMeter (Windows Phone 8)
LogMyTraining (iPhone)
Strava Integrator (Web)
Giro Your Strava (Web)
Strava Bulk Exporter (Web)
Cycling Weekly (iPhone)
Bryton GPS units (Desktop)
Fit Leagues (Web)

Now you’d think that these applications would have been notified ahead of time, but indeed, that wasn’t the case.  They received an e-mail two days later letting them know their request for application was denied.  This would be akin to receiving your University Application rejection later weeks after the school year started.

Here’s what the unlucky companies received:

“Hello (Name),

 

As of July 1, 2013, V1/V2 API endpoints have been retired. Libraries, sites, and applications using these endpoints will cease to work.

 

In previous blog updates, we’ve discussed status and access to V3 of our API.  As mentioned then, we had to make difficult decisions this year about where to invest time and resources – feature development or a full-fledged API program.  We have chosen to focus on feature development at this time and so access to V3 of our API is extremely limited.

 

Any developer who has been granted access to V3 of the API has been contacted. We will revisit our API program and applications from time to time, but for the time being, we have no plans to grant further access in 2013.
If you have questions or comments, please send an email to developers@strava.com. Given our limited resources, you should not expect an immediate response.

 

Thanks for your understanding,

 

Your Friends at Strava”

Yet those were actually the lucky ones.  Many apps didn’t get any response back from Strava at all – just further silence.  In fact, in some cases users of apps have contacted Strava and asked why the app doesn’t work, only to have Strava tell them (but not the app developer) that they’re app had been cutoff.  For example, see this support ticket response that was forwarded to me by a reader when they asked about why they couldn’t upload from the app they were using (the interwebs are full of confused and upset users):

“Unfortunately, at this time we cannot grant the iSmoothRun application access to our V3 API. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.The iSmoothRun team has been made aware of the API retirement and should be updating their app to remove the Strava sync functionality. Best, Sarah” – Jul 03 03:48 pm (PDT)

I asked Strava why applications were notified after the disablement, and didn’t really get a good answer, only clarifying that:

As far as warning, we again were constrained by the nature of V1/V2 as we had no good way to communicate directly with developers who were using it, or accurately gauge the end-user impact of shutting it down, therefore our outreach wasn’t as widespread as we would have liked. Where we did have contacts, we began communicating the changes in January, and later posted updates to our engineering blog starting in early May. Initially we were going to cut-off V1/V2 at the end of May, but extended the deadline to beginning of July.

 

We felt we had been clear about when V1/V2 was going to switched off, and that V3 access would be limited (see blog posts). Unfortunately, we realized this would put some developers in the painful position of no access to V1/V2 or V3. We aren’t happy about this, but it is our only viable option until we can properly grow our the V3 program.”

No doubt they had contacts for developers, since many submitted applications requesting access – but to say they were clear with developers is pretty injudicious since they didn’t respond to those requests.  I then asked as to how they selected which apps would get the magic ticket and which wouldn’t:

“As mentioned above, we have commitments to specific partners and beyond that V3 access is limited to a handful of developers with whom Strava was already actively working. Unfortunately we weren’t a position to accept all requests or even draw a bright line, since so many requests were compelling.”

But even more strange is the stance that they had to even disable the v1/v2 API’s to begin with.  Especially given, as Strava explained to me, they don’t even have a team to deal with the v3 API’s that they’ve now put in place:

“When we researched what it would take to offer a fully supported V3 API, we found we didn’t have the resources to do it competently without sacrificing important product features, and business realities dictated we couldn’t do that. Once we have a team in place to support V3 we intend to open access to more developers. Unfortunately, without that team in place, we don’t have a timeline.”

Which really begs the obvious question: Why go to all this trouble to tick off partners and paying customers?  The very partners and customers who got you where you are today.

Well, that answer may come from Strava’s plans for being the “number one sports brand of the 21st century”, as they told a magazine focusing on venture capitalists earlier this year.  Yet, when you look at all of the worlds best and most widely used web platforms, few of them got there or stayed there by becoming closed to applications.

Even within the sports technology world there’s the clear recognition that interoperability with devices and applications is what drives the ecosystem.  In talking with Ben Pryhoda, the Director of Engineering at TrainingPeaks about their API access, they are notably far more receptive to 3rd party developers – even in the face of their own plans to update their API.

“We see 3rd party access to our API as a benefit to our users and is something that we are fully committed to maintaining.  3rd party developers add value in innovative ways, which we encourage. We have been working on an entirely new API that we’re planning to release later this Summer. The new API will require registration and approval, but we believe that our existing business model is sufficient to allow sustainable growth of 3rd party users.”

RunKeeper, the biggest mobile computing fitness brand out there feels the same way, as Bill Day, their head of platforms explained to me:

“RunKeeper is committed to an open Health Graph platform.  We welcome third party developers of apps, devices, sensors, and services to integrate with RunKeeper and the rest of the Health Graph community (more than 120 published partners and counting) via the Health Graph API.”

In many ways Strava is very similar to both RunKeeper and TrainingPeaks.  All three platforms ultimately depend on user data from other devices, be it phones, or cycling/running computers like Garmin’s.

In fact, when I asked RunKeeper about allowing access to apps that they deemed “competitive” to RunKeeper itself, bill noted:

“In fact there are a number of competitive apps integrated with the Health Graph platform today, for examples please see the various activity trackers listed in our app directory including iSmoothRun, Caledos Runner, and many others.  So long as partners respect the user’s right to control the access and flow of their data and abide by the API Policies and ToS meant to ensure that, all are welcome.”

Even what is the likely the biggest sports tracking platform on the web – Garmin Connect (by Garmin), maintains open API’s that allow relatively unfettered access to the platform.

Strava cuts off access to bulk exporting of your data

Perhaps one of the most troubling changes out of all of them is actually the removal of the ability to bulk-export your data.  This means that in order for you to remove data from Strava (such as down the road if you want to change to another platform), you’d need to manually export each and every activity manually, one at a time.  Obviously, this would take rather long.

While Strava didn’t previously offer this capability natively, other 3rd parties did.  This is somewhat similar to how it works on Garmin Connect, where Garmin Connect doesn’t offer bulk export, but does allow applications to do it for users with permission.  Some platforms like TrainingPeaks do however offer bulk export within the site.

In talking with Strava, it doesn’t sound like this is a function coming back to the API’s anytime soon:

We’re looking at ways to introduce bulk activity export functionality, independent of our API, e.g. as a tool on our website. We don’t yet have a specific timeline for its introduction.“

This is concerning because effective last week, you’re realistically dependent on Strava to make good on a promise with no timeline if you want to take your data somewhere else down the road.

A look at changes made to the running side of Strava

IMG_2405

While cycling may be where the majority of Strava’s users are, it has been slowly becoming more and more popular with runners.  It offered a good set of features to allow the runner to analyze segments against other runners and then dive into their own runs and perform some baseline analysis.  No doubt the site always lagged in features compared to the cycling site, but it was by and large, ‘just fine’.

Well, that was until April 11th anyway, four months ago today, when Strava redesigned the running side of the site.  In doing so they flat out removed more than half a dozen features, then made another set of features harder to find, and then as the pièce de résistance they changed up the user interface in what I can only describe as the most compelling way to make something more difficult to navigate.  No doubt that the look and feel of a given site can be entirely subjective – but even four months later I find myself shaking my head at using the running site versus the quite perfectly functional cycling side.

Of course, it’s not just me – endless numbers of Strava runners have voiced their dislike of the new updates.  Strava employees interjected early on to try and defect and clarify all the changes, but since then have been absent in the discussions.  To match that, most runners that have given me feedback (virtually every day since) on the running side have matched Strava’s plans and pretty much ignored the new running functionality.

For me, I may upload the occasional run there, but I find any ‘fun’ to using the running side of the site now largely gone.  They’ve taken away any of the enjoyment in looking at runs through Strava.  For example, why is it that segments aren’t shown on the main page any longer.  That’s quite arguably the only reason folks use Strava over other platforms for running (especially now), and somehow,  now they’re shoved off to a side page.  Somehow, segments aren’t even listed amongst my ‘Top Results’ section.  In this particular run I bested a given segment – which is a notable achievement in Strava – yet it doesn’t appear at all here.

image

Now, this isn’t to say everything is bad.  For example, I like the way on the running side I can ‘pop-down’ the Segment mini-dashboard of sorts next to a given segment:

image

Some of the things are little, but taken in total, are annoying.  For example – elevation as displayed within the lap page.  Why is the scale 800ft, when I never go anywhere near 800ft?  It’s arbitrary and otherwise makes everything pretty much unusable within the chart.

image

Ultimately I suspect that many of the features will ultimately return, as some already have.  But everything to me seemed half-baked.  Why push out a surprise new user interface unless it’s done?  Nobody was sitting around saying “Wow, I can’t wait for the interface I don’t know existed but will take away most of the run features.”  No, instead, users would have been quite happy with how it was with a new interface and associated new features once everything was ready.

In many ways, this seems like it was ultimately just a preview of exactly the sort of “act now and don’t say sorry later” behavior that was seen within the 3rd party/API side.

A kerfuffle on recumbent and aerodynamically friendly bicycles

Recumbent

In what appeared to be another group of users upset with Strava, there’s recently been issues with Strava marking certain segments as invalid if the cyclist was using a recumbent bicycle (the ones were you sit more like a chair).  At the time Strava was proactively flagging these rides for removal, with support personal responding to inquiries from confused users saying:

“The reason your activity was flagged is that you are riding an untraditional bicycle. I checked with my manager and we unfortunately have to draw the line at recumbent bicycles. This is in order to keep the leader board as level of a playing field as possible.”

This seemed pretty wonky to me, given they would permit time-trial and triathlon bikes yet somehow disallow recumbent bikes.  Even further when you think about it, it’s perfectly fine to organize 100 of your friends into a peloton and cruise along at 40MPH to snipe a segment, but not OK to do so in the lawn chair position.  In looking at Strava’s official rules here, there was nothing prohibiting use of recumbent bicycles:

“The Segment Leaderboards for cycling are a place for conventional bicycles only, so that the top Segment rankings are not taken by unattainable, motor-assisted times or from bicycles with modifications including wind fairings or other means of minimizing drag.

 

Uploading data from a car, motorcycle, e-bike, motor-assisted bike, motor-paced ride or any bicycle that includes any non-human propulsion or pedal-assisted force, and categorizing the activity as a “Ride” displaces data uploaded from a human-powered bike, thus conflicting with the fairness and integrity of the Segment Leaderboards.”

Now, the only nebulous term was the use of “other means of minimizing drag” (which I’ve bolded above).  Given that’s what the vast majority of bicycling advancements are designed to do these days, I’m not sure exactly what that statement is attempting to allude to.  Perhaps it’s sorta like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous quote on pornography – “I know it when I see it.”

In any case, I asked Strava for clarification on why recumbent bicycles were being banned, and received the below:

“Recumbent bicycles are permitted on Strava as long as they aren’t motorized (there was some confusion within support on this issue).” -Strava CTO Mark Shaw, July 8th, 2013

Since poking Strava on the issue earlier this week and receiving the above answer for this post, it appears that users are no longer having segments removed, nor having issues with support recognizing recumbent bicycles.

(Note: The image I used in this section was just the closest I could find to a recumbent bike within my archives, yet, it somehow sorta makes a point here…obviously, it’s not the type of recumbent bicycles most are upset about.)

The Future

Every company and platform goes through growing pains, and in many ways, it seems Strava is going through similar pains.  However, most companies tend to struggle with meeting demand, finding quality employees, or matching competitors.  Strava, for all its recent problems – doesn’t really seem to be struggling with any of those issues.

Instead, Strava seems to be struggling by axing relationships with supporting partners and companies, removing functionality from existing users, and upsetting paid users.  These problems aren’t ones that immediately cause an upheaval of users, instead, they act as slow catalysts towards migration to other services.  An underlying migration that seems to be visibly apparent across a vast array of forums and social media outlets.  Like most migrations, it starts small – one group at a time.

It is perhaps almost ironic that one of Strava’s own key major investors talked about future changes in direction this past March, and the potential impact it may have on the user base:

“We haven’t gone down that path yet because it kills some of the brand trust between us and our audience.” -Greg Gretsch (primary Strava investment backer)

If Strava does indeed wish to have its most recent venture capital round be its last, then it’s going to have to stop going down the waterslide of upsetting the only people who will be giving them money:  Their paid users who are cancelling subscriptions.  Otherwise, it’ll eventually join the ranks of other sports technology companies who ignore user feedback and fail to understand industry partnerships.  Few of which are around today in any growing capacity, nor popular any longer.

Retweet 196 Like 691 Google +1 114
Tags:

207 Comments

  1. Aaron Lidman

    Thanks for making more people aware of these changes and how it impacts them. The API change is a pretty scumbag move and I can't imagine anyone but the company is happy about it.

    I moved away from Motionbased because Garmin just wasn't doing anything with it and Garmin Connect wasn't going to cut it. Strava got lots of good will there. But I'd imagine if they keep closing it down, with just a few smart export tools, users will move to one of the many other services that are now available. Segments, KOMs, ect... be damned.

    Reply
    • j replied

      I love strava! And felt no impact of any of these changes. I didn't even know there were changes until I read this.

      Reply
  2. Ray - thanks for the breakdown.

    Honestly, I've only dabbled in Strava, mostly because I'm not interested in comparing my effort to someone else. I prefer to keep track of how I'm doing against myself, which SportTracks does a fine job of doing.

    Reply
    • OperationOne replied

      same here. SportTracks, a bike and a pair of running shoes (um, er, more than a pair, actually :D )

      Reply
    • Tonny replied

      +1

      Reply
  3. Champ

    I hope Garmin don't start going down the same path as in not letting you export your tracking to a third party app like google earth or strava!

    Reply
  4. Karl

    This was niggling at me too. Your article got me off my bum and I've stopped my renewal of Premium and let them know why. I doubt it will do much but hopefully is a little more pointed than an email.

    Reply
    • CHARLES RASKA replied

      I am with Karl on this

      Reply
    • David replied

      Thank you Ray..... as a consequence of your post it has caused me to re-evaluate what I get from Strava and the answer is "not much", consequently have cancelled my Premium Membership and deactivated my account

      Reply
    • empewu replied

      I have just cancelled my premium membership and as a reason gave them link to this article.

      Reply
    • Brian Parker replied

      Me too. This article pointing out it has been 4 months with no rollback was the push for me to cancel premium. The downgrade will take away less than they already did!

      Reply
    • Dan replied

      I also cancelled my premium membership. Was thinking of doing so for some time. This article was the tipping point.

      Reply
  5. Keith S

    Thankfully they do still tell you how to deactivate your account. Under Privacy settings. Seeya later Strava.

    Reply
  6. John

    Bye bye Strava.

    Reply
  7. That is pretty evil. I already stopped using twitter when they closed API access to most applications.
    I still like Strava for most things, but this is certainly the first nail in the coffin and I will probably not renew my subscription next time.

    I wonder what happens if Garmin decides it wants Stravas share of the market and changes the format of their GPS devices.

    Reply
  8. Matt

    Do they realize what they have done? This is much like when Netflix decided to split the two services into two separate companies; difference being they did so with advance notice and saw the almost immediate repercussions only to reorganize before the reorganization. Strava needs to get priorities(end users) in order

    Reply
  9. Paul Moore

    Thanks for highlighting these issues Ray. I used to use strava a lot for sharing runs with friends but after the update I found it so annoying to use I gave up and just analyse them in sporttracks. I'm a software developer and was shocked that a major company such as strava could put out a update with what many users saw as major flaws and then just pay lip service to or ignore comments. We now have a phrase 'doing a strava' in our development team when refering to a particularly inept bit of user management.
    I think the idea of shared segments is great and use it a lot for cycling but I can no longer see any benefit in paying for a subscription. I was particularly annoyed that the run update was brought in with no warning just after I paid for a full year and am now not receiving what I paid for.

    Reply
  10. I agree that the direction of changes is quite bad. Still, compared to Garmin Connect, which I use simultaneously together with Strava, the API possibilities are way better - at least from what I see from 3rd party web apps using the APIs. Something like this: link to veloviewer.com is just unseen with Garmin Connect. I think you are being a bit unfair with putting Strava in the spotlight alone, when several other companies are doing the same stuff if not worse... But I agree with all your points.

    Reply
  11. Wawan Setiawan

    Even though access/upload by wahoofitness was fixed, but everytime I upload my cycling activity (imported from garmin device and then export to Strava), the distance is always stated as 1 mile. I haven't tried running though.

    Reply
  12. Bill

    Maybe Strava is attempting to battle doping in strava segments...

    link to digitalepo.com

    Reply
    • Randell replied

      Wow, Bill. That is a shame. It certainly explains how some KOMs boast 40+mph on some climbing segments...

      Reply
  13. Ian

    Great piece Ray - i've been following your bits and pieces you've dripped out here and there on this subject but never really got, this has summed it up perfectly.

    Reply
  14. Brett

    It has smackings of what happened at MMR a few years back, it was fine and perfectly usable and then it was updated for software development's sake, not because it was needed. You were forever logging intot he new 'beta' site. At the same time they removed useful stuff like laps... I gave up when elevation stopped working...

    I really hope they go back to basics and understand why it gained poularity. Regarding the elevation thing... it looks like they are using the same tool that Garmin uses to show your elevation on a ride...

    Reply
  15. Jasper

    For 90% of users, this won't make a blind bit of difference, and those are the numbers the money men will be looking at. The other 10% are niche, and if it costs a significant proportion of dev time to maintain the API and a significant amount of bandwidth is used on them, then some accountant somewhere is going to draw a line.

    But word of mouth and reputation has to count for something, doesn't it? I probably won't renew my subscription.

    Reply
    • MarkL replied

      I agree with your niche comment, but it tends to be niche players that observe, clamour and popularise leading edge ideas that then filter into the mainstream. Strava will loose them and with it reduce any popular or "cool" reputation it has built up so far.

      It would also help if Strava had a more balanced product set. For example, Strava Bluetooth support on Android is woeful. Not an issue whilst using another tool via the API....but no more!

      Reply
  16. Scott Osborn

    Thanks Ray for making this really clear to understand. I've just cancelled my auto-renew on subscription and have let them know why..

    Reply
  17. Being a web/JavaScript developer who constantly deals with 3rd party APIs, thank you for the API details you provided.

    Reply
  18. Stefan

    I was planing to open up an strava account. With all thist I will postpone this. My time is to precious.

    Thanks Ray for pointing out what's going on.

    I think this is the beginning of the end of strava. Not only they shutting out other company's, more importantly they shutting out all the people using strava over 3 party Apps.

    Reply
  19. Jeremy

    Great article Ray! I love how you kept the whole article factual, and did your research. It isn't just some angry opinion piece. Instead, you formulate good questions and I'm glad you asked Strava them. I myself had just started using Strava, because I like the interface (I don't know what I was missing before the April update, since I wasn't there), and I think segments are interesting. Now, however, I'm going to look at perhaps migrating (or posting to both) to SportTracks.

    Reply
  20. Marc

    Thanks for this article in raising awareness. I was aware of these changes over the past week and was disappointed by them. I posted a comment to their engineering blog post announcing the API changes last week and it still had not been approved.

    As an iSmoothRun user, I found their cutting off access to third party apps to be frustrating. Strava's iOS app does not provide sufficient functionality.

    I have deleted my Strava account this morning. Perhaps they will get the message, perhaps not.

    Reply
  21. Tim

    RideWithGPS.com, here we come. I've liked that site since I found it - I think it's the easiest for making turn-by-turn instructions for my 800.

    RideWithGPS added segments awhile back, but it just doesn't get used as much as Strava. Plus, RideWithGPS allows you to select any portion of the ride (or run I assume, I just haven't been uploading my runs there) and it'll give all the stats for that section. This is done just by clicking and dragging across the graph at the bottom of the page. It can turn any selected section of the ride into a segment. Then if you want to, you can make it a "real segment" where you can compare all your efforts or your efforts against anyone else. It'll also show you a "race" against other riders that shows where gaps opened and closed in times across the ride. I really like that feature. I have some permanent segments made, but I can easily check any section of the ride I that I choose.

    On the running side, Strava used to show you where your best 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1 miles etc. section of a given run was. I really liked that. If my average pace was 9:00 min/mile, but I had a mile that was covered in 8:15, I could look at where that happened - was it the down hill leg that covered parts of miles 3 and 4, or the part with the wind at my back during mile 2 and 3 etc.

    I still upload rides and runs to Strava, but find myself doing little with the data. I spend much more time looking at my data on GarminConnect and RideWithGPS.

    Reply
    • Dr. D replied

      Another supporter of RideWithGPS - absolutely brilliant.

      It is my go-to site for mapping runs/rides in new locations and with their turn-by-turn instructions, it makes using their services a joy. You can even search for routes and use/modify them.

      Great article Ray - as mentioned earlier, a very well written piece.

      Reply
    • Kevin replied

      I have been using Strava for most of the year. I have uploaded all my Garmin data from as far back as 2008. I have really liked it. However, there are issues like this and like anybody being able to flag your ride or segment and get it removed that annoy me.
      For the last month I have been also uploaded to RideWithGPS and have compared the two apps. There are many things I like in rideWithGPS better than in Strava. There are a few things Strava has that I wish RideWithGPS would present in the same format, but I think that is just what I am used to. The more I use both, the more I like RideWithGPS better. I have uploaded all my data from back as far as 2008 to rideWithGPS also.
      I have been seriously contemplating moving to RideWithGPS solely and dropping Strava. I am even more tempted to do so after reading this.

      Reply
    • msebast replied

      Thanks for the pointer. I read this comment and then spent the next few day playing around with RideWithGPS. I'm converted now! I really like being able to upload pictures.

      Reply
  22. Richard McDowell

    I was a sporadic user of Stava, but never uploaded regularly, so I won't miss it, but I have just deleted my account based on this pretty appalling treatment of 3rd party apps. I wonder if my data has also been deleted along with my account?

    Reply
  23. Duane

    This is a good summary of the situation. My pure speculation is that Strava has a peculiar problem of being very popular but having some trouble monetizing their popularity. It takes a lot of staff and resources to run their operation and it is a little hard to imagine them being solvent on premium subscriptions when the free edition offers so much. My guess is that someone ran the numbers on how much bandwidth was "leaking" through the API and reasoned that this was all lost traffic and attention on their site. The change came so swiftly and the communication lagged so much that it reads like a knee jerk reaction to an internal cause for panic.

    What they really need is to have a developer evangelist on staff who nurtures the third party development community. They are taking it on the chin here because they are treating API support as a liability instead of an asset.

    Reply
    • Randell replied

      +1

      Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      I'm one of the first critics of Strava, and the original posts were in July. I think in the meantime things have moved, Strava has become very responsive and they seem to have a "thoroughbred" evangelist on staff. (I am a developer and have experienced both the change of position of Strava as well as excellent developer support).

      Reply
  24. ReadMagnus

    Thank you, Ray, for getting to the bottom - as always - this time on the Strava matter.

    I am an iSmoothRun user, because this app - basically a data-feeder to other sites- allows me to post to multiple sites. I try to keep in touch with different people who themselves are using different sites. This keeping-in-touch first and foremost keeps me motivated, as I am not an athlete, but a recovering couch potato and unmitigated IT gadget freak.

    Personally, I am not happy how Strava moved ahead on this also because I believe it affects the sales potential of the iSmoothRun app or similar products and in turn the ability of such developers to keep up with the steady increasing flows of sensors. To keep the data coming is clearly in the interest of Strava, is it not?

    Example in question: The developer at iSmoothRun seems to be highly committed to to add whatever sensor (example: Viiiiva) and sites he gets his hands on, helping me in turn to share with more people and toy with more "gadgets". I do my data consumption and analysis - enhanced by paid-for feature memberships - on dedicated websites, such as TrainingPeaks (but certainly not on Strava anymore).

    For full and fair disclosure: I am a regular client of the apps and sites mentioned in this post, but have no affiliation with any of them.

    Reply
  25. Matt

    Looks like someone is not quite understanding their own business model...

    Bulk export is extremly important to me as a customer, as I want to take my data somewhere else in case I want to change site or a site goes out of business. That's one of the reasons I still use a desktop software for tracking my runs and rides. Incidentally, I used it's bulk export functionality to be able to import all my data into strava recently. Not finding Strava too interesting though... Limited usability for running, as you note as well in your article.

    Reply
    • Steve S. replied

      I find I have a suddenly-increased interest in desktop (local) storage & management of my rides/tracks.

      Any good suggestions for packages/software that I should check-out?

      Reply
    • Luther G replied

      Steve S. Take a look at Golden Cheetah, goldencheetah.org I have no affiliation, just a satisfied user.
      They:
      Provides a rich set of analysis tools, including a critical power graph, BikeScore calculation, histogram analysis, a best interval finder, and a pedal force versus pedal velocity chart, to name just a few.

      Is available for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.

      Is released under an Open Source license.

      We believe that cyclists should be able to download their power data to the computer of their choice, analyze it in whatever way they see fit, and share their methods of analysis with others.

      Reply
    • Matt replied

      In case you're on OSX, check out RubiTrack which i find pretty cool.

      Reply
  26. derlinzer

    I occasionally used Strava for uploading rides and even planned to go pro since i started to ride more frequently...

    Well, this isn't going to happen. Screwing users and developers over like this, doesn't help to gain any trust. I hope they crash and burn with these arrogant decisions.

    Even Twitter was more generous to developers when they changed their API TOS.

    Reply
  27. craig

    I've just cancelled my paid subscription. Wake up Strava!

    Reply
  28. George Cory

    As usual, a fantastic keep-it-to-the-facts analysis.

    I suspect that the accountants have looked at their Amazon hosting charge for the APIs, and seen that there's an awful lot of cpu-time charges coming from 3rd-party apps which aren't contributing any cash.

    I can understand that - and appreciate that it's a really difficult decision.

    Also, the people who are mostly hit are the ones using iPhone/Android.Their data is going straight into Strava - they don't have their own copy. At least when you upload Garmin files, you've got the original and can use it anywhere else.

    That's assuming that you also pull it into Garmin Connect, Training Centre - or at the very least, copy the .fit files onto your own disk before deleting. Everyone does that, don't they? ;)

    Reply
  29. Jacov

    Annoying. Stopped being able to upload directly from PerfPro. I like having a backup of all my workouts in one place. Time to move on...

    Reply
  30. David

    I can see distinct advantages to limiting exaggeration of the vertical element of the graph.
    When I'm working with my data in Excel I will limit the vertical exaggeration to no more than 10x, less if the shape of hills is still visible : 5x for steep hills over limited distances.

    Too much exaggeration adds no more 'information' and spoils the subtleties of slope variation being visible in the elevation profile. It also removes the absolute distinction between a 'flat' ride and one that has a notable elevation difference if the 'graph range' is fully used for all rides.

    All the rest of the decisions seem unwise and divisive. Particularly denying upload permissions from GPS devices and their Web API is going full-retard. Where is the data that they 'eat' supposed to come from? Unless they are planning on using a full-raft of 3rd party fully functional import/export API and route planning.

    I never thought that Strava offered much ~ Ride with GPS offers more or less the same analysis, and import/export functions, but also gives very useful multi-mode/multi-mapping route planning

    Reply
  31. Dan

    As an software developer myself (rejected from Strava V3 API) and a long time Strava Premium user, when I heard news of the API access I cancelled my auto-renew. I never really used the premium services, but I liked Strava and wanted to support them. Tant pis.

    Reply
    • Dan replied

      Also, thank you for making this post Ray, I thought i was the only one mad about these changes.

      Reply
  32. Pete Brezzo

    If Strava wants to remove 3rd party access to keep people on their site, they need to actually improve their product. These 3rd party companies are improving on Strava, while Strava seems to be stagnating.

    They released a swim feature in April. It has not improved at all. Strava let's you label the workout as a swim, but it still treats the data as a modified run. Why would customers wan't a useless swim feature? It's a complete joke. It is still missing basic functionality like: PRs, total miles swam in a week/month/year and even best time over key triathlon distances. (750m, 1500m, 1900m, or 3800m) Why even release it if you had ZERO intention to improve it and bring it to the functionality of the Run or Ride?

    And screw triathletes! Strava hasn't even bothered to offer the ability to upload a multisport event. Why? I have no clue. Garmin Connect seems to do it just fine, yet Strava ignores the needs of the Tri community. And as a Strava subscriber I expect at least what is free on Garmin Connect. I have to manually import each leg of a tri as well as the transitions. Why isn't there a transition label for swim-bike and bike-run? It seems like a duh feature set but I'm not holding my breath. Look how long it took them to provide a totally useless swim feature.

    The run feature is also a joke, segments can be cut by not running the full course. If I find a 4 mile up and back path run, I can get in the top 10 by turning around sooner and only running 3.5 miles. Why should that count? And Ray is right about the new layout. They have really crippled the best parts in the run feature. Don't get me started on the fact that 'bad data points' that they cannot fix kill some of my PR runs as showing up in my best times at distances! I ran my best time over 10k and it wouldn't set it as my best 10k time because my Garmin 910xt lost data over 2 seconds while running under an overpass. The look at the data shows that I could not have 'cheated' yet they refused to fix it or manually help me get that time as my PR for the 10k. It sounds insignificant, but to have a rep tell you 'tough shit' in a very nice way still pisses you off.

    If Strava wants to be “number one sports brand of the 21st century” they need to improve on their product and get MORE people involved, in more sports. Nike didn't become huge because they stuck their heads in the sand and focused on running shoes.

    Strava if you want to keep people from improving on your product, then you damn well might want to start improving your own!

    Reply
  33. Greg

    APIs can be tricky business. They can greatly enhance your product but they also have downsides. How would you like it if someone started making money off of your hard work? Worse yet you actually have to use your resources to support them? Sometimes what appears to be evil is more about survival and protecting your customers from leaving for the competing service.

    Reply
    • derlinzer replied

      As far as i understand it, the apps in question wrote data TO Strava and did not take data FROM it. Anyway, Strava is nothing without data that users submit - without it, Strava is worthless.

      So how would those other apps make money off Strava's services?

      Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Derlinzer is correct, most apps were actually posting data TO Strava not from it.

      It's not Strava's data, it's end-users data.

      Reply
  34. Jackson

    I started running a year ago after not working out for 15+ years. I have gotten sucked happily into this community. What I don't understand is the number of dumb moves constantly made (and pointed out by you Ray) by companies in this space? Is what we want not profitable? Dumbfounded

    Reply
  35. Noel

    This is not the way to proceed. I purchased a Premium membership myself a few months ago, not because I needed any of the features but just because I wanted to support Strava. I'm rethinking this decision now. These high-handed actions toward 3rd party developers and the limiting of open access makes me nervous to say the very least. I'm really hoping the turn this around.

    Great article. Thanks for taking the time research this and pass it along. Here's hoping that somebody at Strava is looking at this and making the right decision(s).

    Reply
  36. Despite this mis-step, I believe Strava will keep growing. I think its still the best out there. The competition aspect is intense and super motivating.

    Reply
  37. Douglas Kubler

    Besides Strava I upload my data to Garmin Connect so I don't have a problem getting to "my data". But the bulk download from Strava can be replicated with a web scraper like Helium. Just program it to go through your account and download the GPS of each ride (automatically). You won't get power data from Strava but if you've used another program (e.g. WKO+) you have that data already.

    Reply
  38. If you have a GPS unit, you can always save your data. The Garmin is a lot more accurate than the smartphone app as well.

    Reply
  39. Nicolas

    Well put, as usual...

    Reply
  40. Bill T

    Thanks for bringing up the extent of the issues Ray!

    Reply
  41. Guy Gadois

    If you want to save our ride data then drag the files from your Garmin to a folder on your computer. It's that easy. I am a premium user of Strava and I see no reduced functionality for me and will continue my premium membership. And, I still own all my own ride data and I bet you all do too if you just copy the files over.p from your Garmin.

    Much ado about nothing IMHO

    Reply
  42. Great post Ray,

    Unfortunately holding users's data for ransom is only too common in this industry and one of the reasons that I wrote the free iPhone app RunGap. You can still use RunGap to pull all of your Strava rides from Strava (and many other services) as it doesn't use their V1/2 APIs. Get it here: link to appstore.com

    Using Nike+ as an example of a vendor opening up their API on the other hand is actually a bad choice as they did almost exactly the same thing last year when Nike decided to "retire" the unofficial APIs that a lot of developers were using without offering a replacement. Last I checked, there was no way to apply for Nike+ API access and Nike has ignored all the 10+ emails that I have sent over a period. I can't decide if Strava's arrogant BS is worse or better than Nike's total lack of response. At least Strava openly admit hating 3rd party developers getting to "their" data while Nike has cleverly managed to market the exact same move as "a step toward openness".

    Reply
    • Randell replied

      Nike is much worse than Strava. Strava does, at least, allow export of data, albeit one at a time. I've got 2 years worth of run data imprisoned in nikeplus. Will RunGap liberate my nikeplus data?

      Reply
    • Randell replied

      Update: Strava does now have export-all functionality. It's on the right side of the Settings page.

      Reply
  43. simon

    good post.

    As pointed out, the new run pages are still pretty poor. An strava are unaplogetic.

    "“We haven’t gone down that path yet because it kills some of the brand trust between us and our audience.” -Greg Gretsch"

    looks like that journey has already begun.

    I also love the ironic "your friends at strava"

    Reply
  44. David Stankard

    This is why I have purchased SportTracks, and a half-dozen plugins, so that ALL my data remains with me on my own PC. I also upload to Garmin, and now to the http://www.sporttracks.mobi site (again, paid for) so that others can see my data. But I NEVER want to get in to a position where I lose year's worth of MY DATA because some site blocks bulk export. If they are holding your data hostage, you better stop using them now!

    Reply
  45. Scott

    They could have handled this so much better. If you are only going to have a half-dozen partners use the API, that's not a public API, and having people apply for access was just a waste of everyone's time. Generates a lot of ill will for no real reason. The only thing I can think of is that their strategy changed halfway through the process, and they refused to admit it pubically.

    Reply
  46. William T

    STRAVA

    I'm a huge fan! I tell my friends about you and use you to log my rides, runs and other activity.

    But the activity and its data are MINE! I want to have control and access to this data. If you try to take that from me, I will no longer use strava and will stop my premium membership.

    This article is very fair and accurately reflects poor judgement and decision making on behalf of Stava for the community of users that make it great.

    Think, Reflect, then Speak/Act

    Reply
  47. Thanks for this. You know, I switched from Endomondo to Runkeeper precisely for the data access problems. I was right on the verge of paying for Strava when all this came about.

    If Runkeeper was smart, they'd get their marketing in gear and get more third party devs to sign up with their ecosystem and flesh out some of the draw features Strava has(had)

    Reply
    • Unfortunately the RunKeeper API Policies (at link to runkeeper.com) only allows 3rd party developers to offer functionally that RunKeeper don't want to include in one of their own paid services (now - or in the future). Personally I wouldn't invest in developing for that platform with these policies in place.

      Take a look at Magellan Active (link to active.magellangps.com). IMHO this is the right approach to "Data Liberation" and what everyone should be offering.

      Reply
    • Bill Day replied

      Thanks for your suggestions, Jonathan.

      I'd love to hear more about your ideas for RunKeeper and our partners. Please email me at: bill@runkeeper.com

      -Bill Day
      RunKeeper Platform PM & Evangelist

      Reply
  48. Kyle Polansky

    I find this article very interesting. I primarily run, and bike occasionally, but Garmin Connect seems to fit my needs alright. I remember seeing your post about the heat maps, and I thought it was really neat. I think I signed up for Strava a while back, but never really used it.

    However, a few days ago I found an activity of a hike that me and a couple of others wanted to do. There were other trail maps on the web, but most of them were cartoon-like, or offered weird perspectives of the trail. I spent about 2 hours trying to match these various maps up with satellite imagery. I thought that I would just download the course file from Strava and upload it to my Garmin, however Strava doesn't offer this basic feature, and all the 3rd party sites I found had stopped working.

    After reading this article, I think I now understand why all the 3rd party sites had stopped working. I just don't understand how Strava leaderboards work if you can't even download the course file to follow. In addition, I just received a privacy email from Strava. It appears that they want me to hide my workout data from others on the internet, and block people who are following me. Sure some people may appreciate these features, but It appears Strava is trying to take control of user data and make it harder for other people and 3rd parties to access this data.

    Reply
  49. Chris Jennings

    I was wondering why uploads from weren't working. I've just canceled my premium membership and let them know why.

    Reply
  50. Todes Spirale

    Strava is facing the conundrum of monetizing social media. As a pure performance site Strava would be just a cloud based training application. With KOM and friends, and to some extent segment exploration and challenges, it’s social media. For the athlete, weekend warrior, or even those just out for some fun and exercise to pay for this service what’s the added value? How will Strava satisfy those who predominantly just want to use Strava as a training tool, those who mostly use Strava to connect with others, and everyone in between?

    I use Strava, I started using Strava because a lot of the people I ride with do, and to keep connected with some I don’t see much of anymore. But it’s changing the way people ride, and not all for the good. Some of my companions have noticed this and have stopped using Strava. I was even considering this myself.

    Seems like Strava is going in the wrong direction, I don't think they know what they have.

    Reply
  51. I suspect the fact the accountants have missed is that the people using the 3rd party apps with Strava are actually the more likely to be premium members. I was surprised how many people in the IpBike Strava club have premium accounts.

    The people using my app IpBike are doing so because it's a better stand alone bike computer than the standard Strava App. It offers a load of functionality not in the Strava Android app probably most importantly ANT sensor support. I don't see the app as competing in any way with Strava I was only uploading data and have no back end web site functions of my own. The most obvious things I compete with high end stand alone bike computers. The old Strava API allowed me to have a feature people have been crying out for on the Edge 510 and 810 devices namely direct Strava upload support. I have been able to put in an alternative upload function using the upload by email option that there currently is with Strava but it's not as good as with the old API.

    Reply
    • Gunnar replied

      Plus+1 for Ipbike. I really like the option to use my Sony Xperia with built in ANT+ and the Ipbike app....and then upload to Strava...but now there is no direct upload via Ipbike to Strava. Strava is definetly going backwards in my opinion.

      Reply
    • Ken Taylor replied

      I was an IpBike user first and signed up for premium membership to better examine the data. I'd already noticed that, from me at least, Strava was doing better out of IpBike than Ifor.

      Reply
    • Havelaar replied

      Thank's Ray for pointing these issues out!

      As a convinced IpBike user, I can only confirm Ifor's post. The app is groving permanently and bugs are sorted out immediately. It is clearly the n° 1 app on my phone. As an example: it worked flawlessly for over 80 hours during nine days!

      The work around for the strava upload is fine for me. So, I hope strava will continue to accept the files by e-mail. If ever at one point they won't, I defenitely leave strava before leaving IpBike.

      In any case, I will unsubscribe from Strava's premium functionality. Competing is fun for a week or so, but at the end of the day I am interested in my own progress and not the one compared to others who may have ridden segments in totally different circumstances than I have.

      Reply
  52. Eli

    May be useful to link to the support contact link. Asking them not to kill support for 3rd party apps may let them know how many people don't like the direction they are going. (And doesn't require not using Stava anymore if you still like the functionality that is still there)
    link to strava.zendesk.com

    Reply
    • Eli replied

      So in response to my support request of "Please stop killing off support for 3rd party apps" they said:

      I completely understand your disappoint with the changes to our API. We are now in the process of working with some third-party apps to bring them into the V3 API program and do intend to continue expanding access in the future.

      Reply
    • Chris Jennings replied

      I got the same form letter today.

      Reply
  53. I dropped Strava Premium at the end of last year when I realized it just wasn't worthwhile to me anymore, but I was still uploading data via iSmoothRun because it was convenient. Probably time to completely delete my account.

    Reply
  54. Thomas

    Hey Ray,

    how has Golden Cheetah been affected my the API changes?

    Just curious how it "broke" when Strava cut the API.

    Reply
    • Dave replied

      The Upload to Strava and Download from Strava functions added to v3.0 no longer work and will be removed in the next update. You can still export from Golden Cheetah to a tcx file and then upload to Strava

      Dave

      Reply
  55. I also had a now cancelled Strava Premium membership that I purchased not for the features, but to support a site I found value in. As of today I've also cancelled the Premium membership because this API madness is turning their back on the very thing that's made them big.

    Reply
  56. I'm one of the developers who was affected by this change - it sure is quite inconsiderate of them, but oh well.

    I was able to work around the issue, however, so if you're looking to leave Strava and take your data with you, check out tapiriik.com to bulk-export your Strava activities to Dropbox as GPX files (or move them to RunKeeper, Garmin Connect, or Endomondo).

    Reply
    • Pedro Navarro replied

      Wow, I didn't now about tapiriik.com! It's very cool and very very well done.

      Reply
    • Jared replied

      Awesome site! Thank you!

      Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Good work Collin.

      Reply
  57. Thanks for the writeup Ray.

    Strava has done some innovative stuff in the last few years, and riders have gobbled it up. Their vision has been good.

    But this speaks volumes about fundamental corporate values... how they view their customers... and most importantly: the compromises required when a startup's growth is funded by venture capital. Simply put: investors need to get paid.

    Users must own their data. Especially in the health and fitness realm. Locking up your personal history behind a wall is simply not acceptable. This has been our philosophy from day zero.

    -Aaron Averill
    CEO Zone Five Software
    Creators of SportTracks 3 and the new cloud platform sporttracks.mobi.

    Reply
    • Pedro Navarro replied

      sportstrack.mobi looks very interesting. Is there an API so 3rd parties can upload data?

      Reply
    • Aaron replied

      Yes sporttracks.mobi has an API for upload and download of workouts and gear. We have a few apps integrating with us (some on the "blacklist" above).

      Reply
    • Pedro Navarro replied

      Cool! Is iSmoothRun on that list? If not I can let the dev team know. iSR supports an amazing number of services and I could use it to upload my running history.

      Reply
  58. Mark

    A couple of comments:
    - Ownership of data. If you’re using a Gamin device to create the data, then you already own the data, as has been pointed out by several commenters above, including Guy Gadois and Craig. You just need to save a local copy of the FIT file on your computer and the data is yours. Then it doesn’t matter what Strava or TrainingPeaks or anyone else does with the data after it’s uploaded, and you’re also future-proofed for whatever great training site comes along in the future to replace Strava or TP. Yes, if you’re using a proprietary app like Strava’s to create the data, the situation is different. Then both sides of the argument seem reasonable to me. User - it’s my data. Strava - if you’re using our app, then you play by our rules. Ultimately, the market will decide. If enough users feel strongly enough about the data, then companies will have to recognize that.
    - Strava Premium – A lot of the comments here seem to suggest that paying for Strava Premium is just kind of supporting a worthwhile cause. So they miss one of the most important features of Strava Premium, and that’s leaderboard rankings by age group (maybe I’m the only guy my age who’s regularly reading DCR, so I noticed this …). For us age-groupers, leaderboard rankings by age group is a huge feature. Example: for that all-important segment “Climbtillyapuke”, on the overall leaderboard, you’re number 562 out of 947. Who cares? But on the age-group leaderboard, you’re 7th out of 62; and if you can just find a way to knock off eight seconds, you’ll move up to sixth place. Now that’s worth paying attention to! And it’s definitely worth paying sixty bucks a year for.

    Reply
  59. Ugh, I've never loved Strava, so this is easy for me to continue to not use it, but it feels like a common mistake of a lot of these start-ups (yes, I'm in SF) to think that to be the company of record they have to build walls and stay closed.

    Reply
  60. Mr Nofish

    I fully understand the concern for the removal of the bulk export option in the absence of a workable alternative, but doesn't that mean that they (even just potentially?) stopped data miners from getting their hands on public rides ? to me, that looks like really Good Thing. Only *I* should be able to export data from Strava, not individual or firms or agencies trying to monetize that data or that have even more shady purposes.

    I don't think anybody will argue that the whole API transition was managed really badly, both the technical side of things (no support team? seriously?) and communication as well. It simply doesn't make sense that they left out in the cold apps that only uploading data, either.

    However, it does make sense (actually, a lot) that they want to be able to control who gets the data and what they do with it, and by extension, letting the users do that, by allowing a certain application to connect with Strava or not.

    Duane also makes an interesting point: my belief is Strava Premium, the way it is now, is mainly useful for power meter users. Like it or not, that is a small minority. And honestly, even if I had a power meter, I wouldn't spend $60 per year on Strava Premium, it's just too much.

    But Strava is useful to find new routes; and the social part of the site, along with segment competition, is a lot of fun - what they really need is to give us more ways to chuck money at them: I'm sure there's plenty of other happy users who wouldn't mind paying a bit, as long as some nice little extras are thrown in to sweeten the deal.

    Reply
    • Shane replied

      "...what they really need is to give us more ways to chuck money at them:"
      Like creating challenges with rewards you have the privilege of buying rather than simply getting for free if you do well?

      Reply
  61. Querfeldein

    Thank you very much for bringing this up! Unfortunately, Strava don't tend listen to their users, nor to independent developers, so hopefully you'll get their attention.

    When I first discovered Strava, I was enthusiastic about it, and convinced quite a few of my friends to join - Garmin Connect was really not up to scratch back then, and despite its flaws, Strava seemed to do so many things right. Also, ironically, I favoured Strava as being vendor-independent. Now, Garmin Connect has matured, but Strava has fallen behind - I could understand that they removed features like "suffer score" from the free version, but closing down the API is a move they will come to regret.

    One major recent change for me was the "distance correction" Strava has started to apply to my running logs - it does not matter to me whether Strava thinks my run was 19.9 km, or 20.0 km as my Garmin Forerunner says, but when I run intervals, it really matters whether I've ran that 13th kilometre in 3:45, or the segment from 11.8k to 12.8k - on my Garmin, I see the split of 3:45, but on Strava, I'll see something like 4:20, assuming I jog slowly in between the intervals. I've now gone back to Garmin Connect for actual training analysis.

    I am frankly amazed that Strava chase after recumbent cyclists, when they cannot even filter "runs" below world record pace (i.e. mislabelled bike rides) from the segment leader boards, which I consider pretty much useless by now. To me, "features" like these just show that Strava aren't testing their products with real runners.

    I can only recommend that users keep a copy of their workout log files (luckily, most platforms still support bulk upload). I'd also very much welcome a review of training websites, if you have the time - you certainly seem to have the expertise.

    Reply
  62. Totally agree Mr NoFish, I'm going to start paying for Premium because I value Strava and dont want to see it die. However, Ive been putting it off due to lack of that "killer" function for me. The free version is everything I need. Then again, similar to Wikipedia, I eventually wil donate because I use it and I like it and I want it to prosper. I was going to say "nobody rides for free" but in Strava's case, we all do!

    Reply
  63. Calum Mackay

    thanks. Just cancelled my Premium, and let them know why.

    They may not listen to their users, but hopefully they'll notice that downturn in revenue.

    Reply
  64. Dave

    The run changes are terrible, I still find it difficult to navigate around and it's missing basic metrics like heart rate (no average or chart), the android app is better! And locking out apps like Golden Cheetah is outrageous - Golden Cheetah has far more "premium" features than Strava, all Strava offers in addition is the ability to share a ride with mates and segment competition so why make it hard for GC users?

    Reply
  65. Michael Anderson

    Strava premium sub cancelled. No more buy of Strava. Instead it's Bye ! (No response to my email to them of a week ago either).

    Reply
  66. Merrill

    Bad move, Strava.

    At the start of this year when I began riding again and using Strava etc, I made the wise decision to not only upload every ride to Strava, but also email myself every file. At 174 .pwx files since mid Jan, I can't imagine having to individually do ANYTHING to these files now.

    I did pay for a year's premium Strava membership, but 6 months of using Golden Cheetah and TP in tandem, I now have the skills and knowledge to use these programs to their full capabilities. I won't stop using Strava, but to help get the message across I'll be 'voting with my feet' and not renew my paid membership.

    Unfortunately for Strava, many people will do the same, but like me, they still have 3, 6, even 9 months left. The bad decisions they make today will take months to trickle down the pipeline. By then it could be too late.
    There are already a number of new apps out there that do the same thing.

    Reply
  67. Thanks Ray. You're our champion.
    I'm one of the app developers whose app no longer has access to the Strava API,
    LogMyTraining.
    As usual, you have covered every aspect in a very detailed manner.
    One point about the single activity export of the .gpx file from Strava; I believe, although I haven't checked since I deactivated my account, that the .gpx file is void of any training info; i.e. there is only the gps locations but not times and no summary info? But perhaps I am wrong?

    As far as your comment about this quote

    “We encourage applications that enrich and enhance the Strava community, not take the community somewhere else. Once we have a team in place around our API program we’ll provide clear guidelines and the right level of support to our developer community (one of the reasons we’re rolling V3 out slowly, so that we can better comprehend its use cases).”

    I do believe that they have a very clear idea of where they want to go and it is stated implicitly "not take the community somewhere else", i.e. all roads must lead to the Strava website and do not pass go and do not collect $200. So whatever app does not force the user to get to the Strava website, will not get access. Of course, some exceptions are made. One being Veloviewer where Ben has done such a great job that outshines anything Strava is capable of doing.

    Reply
    • Douglas Kubler replied

      The GPS file has training data - position, time, cadence, and HR.

      Reply
  68. andreas

    great article with deep insight!

    Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Thanks Douglas.. I guess its missing all of the summary data, most importantly ascent?

      Reply
  69. Lars Alenius

    Deactivated my Strava account today. Bye bye Strava!

    Reply
  70. Querfeldein

    A few further comments: while Strava has a legitimate interest to try and cash in on the investment, removing API functionality to eliminate competition from third party developers is not a legitimate way to do so. As with many other examples, Strava and the independent developers grew in a symbiotic relationship, enhancing the user experience together. Many of the features Strava now offers were first implemented by third party developers, and I would argue that Strava would not be as successful as it is today without their earlier support. It is not right to change the rules of the game once you have become successful partly on the back of third party developers.

    As it happens, Strava owes its existence to the fact that Garmin (and other device manufacturers) use open protocols, and makes extensive use of the Google Maps API. If Garmin encrypted its files, or if Google shut out Strava, Strava's own business model would collapse.

    If a company such as google started selectively removing access to its APIs, antitrust suits would surely follow. Strava is not in that position in terms of overall market share, but for some small third party developers who built their product around Strava's API, it is effectively the same. I don't know what the rules are in the US, but I would hope that Strava reverse their decision very quickly.

    Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Well said. Exactly. Strava owes its existence to open protocols and open devices as well as to all of the users who trust their data with Strava (and in some cases only with Strava, i.e. using the Strava app). Also, to note, not knowing the statistics, but I would imagine that a great part of the Strava data comes from Garmin devices and I doubt all the pros who have partially been responsible for Strava's success use the Strava iPhone app.

      Reply
  71. Like most other riders I know, we only use Strava to boost our egos, not for ride analyse. For that you just can't beat WKO+ and Sportstracks 3. Still the change in direction for Strava is very annoying. Though the changes started months ago with small things like rider comparison data being limited.

    Reply
  72. George Cory

    I keep wondering whether to cancel my premium membership. I quite like what they've done for power-meter users - I'm basically lazy, and Strava is just so easy. Generally, I then analyse a subsection of rides in GoldenCheetah when I really want detail.

    I suppose what's annoying is that Strava seem to be putting almost all of their effort into the Smartphone apps (come on, how many *serious* cyclists want to know their segment position immediately after they've ridden it?). Or these "goals". Do I really need to tell Strava how many km I want to ride every week?

    Strava seem to have gone into a mode where they just ignore users. There's a discussion thread on the subject of "marking a ride as solo or group, to have separate KOMs". Now, whether you think that's a good idea or not - this thread has been running over a year, and despite frequent requests, Strava just don't bother to say whether they're going to do it or not.

    The business with the API doesn't affect my training (although, yes, it would be useful for goldenCheetah to automatically pull in every new item, rather than me to have to re-import from the Garmin). However, there were a great many sites that I found genuinely useful. There was a great multi-ride mapper you could use if you were riding a multi-day event: link to jonathanokeeffe.com - of course, now it's broken.

    So I'm going to pay Strava for another year (it's about to renew), but I'm going to email them to express my views about the direction they're going in. Not that they'll take a blind bit of notice, but at least the more *paying* customers contact them, they might get the idea...

    This really is an excellent time for a competitor to get a really good alternative. I'm a member of a big club (over 600) - a lot of Strava users. Wouldn't take much on our forum for people to switch away from Strava...

    Reply
    • Douglas Kubler replied

      Ha! Marking a ride as solo or group wouldn't be useful even if Strava implemented it. All it takes is one person to mis-mark to bugger the KOM ranking. There are already people who can't/won't trim a 500 mile plane ride from their ride or kill a 1000' ski lift climb. I'm happy to rely on the automatic features of Strava and the limitations therein.

      Reply
    • Thanks for the link, George. My site happens to be one of the few that were blessed with access to the V3 API (although I didn't get access until a couple days before the old APIs shut down, giving me no time to prepare). I'm happy to report that the multi-ride mapping tool has been updated to work with the new API, and even has some new features (it now works with other activity types, like runs and swims). The other tools on my site (segment details, leaderboard notifications, annual statistics) are still offline until I can get them to work with the new API, which in some cases may not be possible (the new API offers substantially less functionality, overall, than the old APIs).

      Reply
  73. Jane Bui

    Thanks for the write up. I've written to Strava and used a link to this article as a reason for not renewing my membership.

    Reply
  74. Chris

    Strava's FAQ on Instagram integration says they link to Instagram because of its "robust API." So, strava doesn't mind leveraging other companies' platforms.

    Reply
  75. Morten

    Bye Strava...

    Reply
  76. Chris

    Your article reflects many of my sentiments re: Strava's recent changes. Deactivated my account, now on the hunt for another candidate ...

    Reply
  77. Magnus

    Hi,

    Does this affect manual upload on strava As-well? the import of .gpx files ? Or will this functionality also be gone.

    If this still will be working, is there any disadvantages execept the hassle of exporting/converting tracking file and then manual importing to strava. The data is still intact?

    Rgs

    Reply
    • ReadMagnus replied

      Good Day

      I am using iSmoothRun on iOS and indeed, the email upload to Strava (still?) works.

      Reply
  78. Magnus

    Example: Will .tcx export from Bryton -> convert to .gpx with gpsis -> manual upload on strava (laptop version) work.

    I'm close to buying a Bryton device.

    Reply
    • Dave replied

      You can still manually upload from a file, so yes it should work. This is how I've been uploading training sessions from my Tacx trainer, I import the HRM file into Golden Cheetah then export and load the file into Strava.

      Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Of course they will allow manual uploads. They just want you to go through their website and non other.

      Reply
    • Magnus replied

      Thanks for clearing that out, this doesn't matter really for my part. As long as I get the data imported to strava it´s fine with me. It´s just a couple of button-clicks extra on my laptop :-)

      Reply
  79. Agustin Goba

    No wonder I've always used mapmyride...

    Reply
  80. Antone Sir

    Just cancelled for other reasons and *then* read this post. Feel even better about it.

    This is the kind of move that kills a company, and I don't think they'll be around in 18 months. Too many MBAs farting around with Excel. We need people who actually make things that people like. Moving on.

    Reply
  81. philippe marc humbert

    I got lost about 3 paragraphs into this article. As long as Strava shows me where I've been on my ride I'm happy. You data heads are too advanced for me. Just enjoy your rides.

    Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Well, Phillippe, perhaps you got lost, but if you have your data exclusively on Strava, you might find that in some date in the future either you will have to pay to see where you have ridden or you won't even be able to see your past rides anymore, in the case they are no longer around (possible). But I guess if tomorrow you want to see where you rode today, for now Strava will work for you. But they give no guarantees and with this last move, only guarantees that they will hold your data hostage.
      I emphasize "you" and "yours", because we are not talking about other people's data, but your own

      Reply
  82. Keith S

    Is anyone surprised at the absence of any comment from Strava? Seems to me if they were focused on happy users that they would have put out some PR blurb. It's not like this an unknown backwater in the fitness websphere.

    Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      I'm no longer a Strava user, but maybe someone should paste a link to this post on the Strava forum :)

      Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      I'm reasonably certain Strava is aware of this, given many of their employees read the blog, and all of the quotes were from conversations with them after I requested quotes for a piece on the API, via their PR team and CTO (Chief Technology Officer).

      Reply
  83. Eli

    Are all the other sites better or is strava just bad cause they reversed what they used to have?

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Most other sites are far more open when it comes to the API. By and large access is unfettered. There are some exceptions, like Nike is still somewhat challenging in terms of what the API offers, but otherwise, things are pretty good across the landscape.

      Reply
  84. specialist

    Though raceshpae is still working it looks to me that it has lost functionality?

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Raceshape got access to the new API (one of the few companies that were granted access). Likely in part because the guy who developed Raceshape (which, is very cool btw), went to work at Strava recently.

      Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Paul Mach - (ex?) Pro Cyclist. Probably has a lot of KOM's on Strava :)

      Reply
  85. I was very impressed by what the guys at http://www.tictrac.com were doing including allowing bulk export out of Strava, until they notified me they have lost access to my data!

    I won't be renewing my premium membership. Garmin Connect is good enough for me.

    Reply
  86. Ted H

    We just had a discussion about how Strava makes money. Guess they make money the old fashion way... taking it from venture capitalists... so these latest moves must be scripted in their "playbook". Pretty sure I won't sign up for their premium package if they start to take away my "used to be free" functionality or takes my data hostage...I already dumped strava run from my phone app. I only post the rides for the fun of looking at the segments. I don't go out to cheat the KOM rankings... I think Strava should add the ability for users to flag ride segments that looks unrealistic... for example, 50mph, uphill. (if this was true, they should be in France right now).... sorry got off on a tangent...

    Reply
    • Chris Jennings replied

      Strava does let you flag a ride

      Reply
  87. Robert Sexton

    I had a hand-rolled web App killed by Strava. It was small and simple, but people found it useful. Its too bad Strava is closing off third party access. Now I have a reason to keep my ears open for an alternative, and ask myself if I should keep paying premium rates. I can analyze my own data with Golden Cheetah.

    All the more reason to keep all of your raw data files for reference, and not entrust them solely to a third-party service.

    Reply
  88. AC

    This really isn't too surprising. User suggestions on features have been a black hole for a long time now (18 months to implement the ability to 'favorite' a segment... yet still now automatic filter to weed out 50 mph + KOMs on a climb). I've contributed to veloviewer and ridewithgps. I won't pay for strava until they take some direction from users. So far they seem to be following the fb model of arrogance.

    Reply
  89. I am still annoyed. I already cancelled my premium membership.

    But I also thought about what kind of APIs Strava is using, which would really hurt them if they got cut off:
    - garmin fit format, this is the most important one I guess
    - gpx format, also an open standard
    - google maps
    - openstreet maps
    - facebook connect
    - instagram
    did I miss anything?

    Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Not only API's but other open "tools/frameworks"
      XML
      iOS
      who knows how much open source code they are using?
      probably other API's too..

      Reply
  90. I'm the developer of LogMyTraining (app store link). Here's a sample of my incoming mail.

    Thanks Strava.


    Hello,
    Since one month i can't download my training from strava to logmytraining, have you got information to resolve my issue?


    Hi
    It's seems I am not the only person, I am still having trouble connecting with my Strava account.
    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
    Kind regards


    Hello,
    Since two weeks I can't download anymore the data from my Strava-account to the Logmytraining app on my Iphone.
    I checked if I still can access my account via the Strava website and this is still possible.
    I don't have any idea what could cause the problem. Until the the beginning of July I never had any problems downloading my data.
    Hope you can help me.


    Hi guys
    Is there a known issue at the moment with downloading training info from Strava? I have not been successful for a week or so.

    Reply
  91. Oz

    I guess I should not hold my breath while I wait for a decent swim support at Strava. It is useless right now. Come on! "Swam on a stationary bike"? That should be an easy fix right? So much for supporting a company by paying a membership only to see it cut features or having half baked ones. You're right. "Screw triathletes". I'll keep saving my data locally an at Garmin Connect.

    Reply
  92. Last summer I put together the first iteration of an API site to organize regional rankings. I was fortunate enough to make it onto the V3 API and recently made the needed changes for compliance.
    SRanks.com Some of you may remember it by the previous name - Strabbaranks.
    My project was born as a proof of concept to support a feature request I was making, but it has taken off as a fun project and users are pretty excited to gather points for local efforts and compare them to friends. I think the regional piece of the pie is very untapped right now and SRanks touches that area a bit while exposing tons of ideas for more.

    I concur that communication has been very difficult and it has been a bit of an uphill battle. That said, at this point all the issues seem to be related to a young company facing a mountain of upside, a race to market, and challenges juggling finite resources. I don't see much that supports them being "bad business" or evil, and I think it is pretty flattering to them that we've come to expect so much and regard them as an established mature entity so quickly. In reality, the company is still young and I'm not surprised to see some kneejerk decision making around liability issues, API support, and general data ubiquity. I am hopeful that as the group matures to the next level they will establish the roles and consistent standards needed to keep us all happy. I don't have any assurance to those ends, but at this point I am still very hopeful. For now I try to ask for as little as possible and work around their constraints.

    Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Jerry, of course, you are a happy camper in that you have access to the platform. I, opposed to you, are an unhappy camper, not having gotten access. But.. apart from our happiness, the young company and limited resources are a lame excuse and I don't buy it. They have shown in many ways, not only in limiting the API, but also not giving a hoot about user comments, that they are arrogant and have their blinders on.

      Their goal is to make a profit and they have a tunnel-vision and old-fashioned approach to making a profit. Evil is not the description I would use, "bad business", well, yes. Knee-jerk? They were almost a year when they made the announcement to deprecate the API. Company young? give me a break? In the internet world both time-wise and financially they are fairly well-established.
      Finite resources. Lame. If you look at the infrastructures and resources available, they are just commodities now. So either Strava has done a poor job in design and development of their infrastructure and software or its just a lame excuse.

      In the end, IMHO, the closed approach will not work. Our world works today, and has in the past, based on connections. The more things we are connected too and the more things that are connected to us, the more chance of success. As the connections dry up, your success will too.

      Strava was building significant connections and with the new API they had an opportunity to multiply the number of connections and references to them, ultimately bring them more business.

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      Resources are limited in software development: link to en.wikipedia.org

      Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Eli, not sure what relevance your link has. I grew up on the mythical man month, which was standard text in advanced CS courses many, many eons ago. So what? Or are you saying that Strava isn't using modern techniques like Agile, Scrum, etc., and just have 100 programmers working 24x7 on a billion lines of code all written in assembler?
      I can assure you that Strava can find adequate "human" resources, but that's not what is holding them back.

      Reply
  93. George Cory

    Funny that someone mentioned "Swam on a stationary trainer". I reported this to Strava support in April. Waste of time - just got the usual "Sorry for the trouble. We're working on improving Swim support... Hang in there and you'll see improvements soon".

    More and more, I'm thinking that Strava are only interested in enhancing the iPhone/Android app (can someone tell me how many Premium members use the app to record their training?) and allowing my rides to be cluttered with hundreds of utterly stupid segments - either 100m sprints (yeah, and how accurate are they even on a Garmin, let alone the app?) or potentially dangerous downhill segments.
    Oh, and of course, giving all those app-users the ability to know their KOM position immediately they've done it.

    From reading the blogs and Facebook comments - I can see that lots of people like the idea of all this stuff - but I really do wonder whether any of these people are Premium members...

    Should I really let them have $59 at the end of the month?

    Reply
  94. Nico

    Hi Ray,

    Great article! I am impressed by your fact based reporting on this, no media bashing/hyping from you :) Keep it up!

    As IT consultant I really don't understand this. Having Cloud discussions almost every week with prospects and customers I find that free access to data and the ability to easily move away from the cloud are always part of the basic requirements to even consider offering..

    Looks like Strava is moving back in time..

    Cheers.

    Reply
  95. Nick

    I'm a software developer & built stuff on the old Strava API.

    I think people are making a mistake if they think Strava cutting API access will harm them. Strava's strength isn't the API or the 3rd party apps, it's the segment leader boards.

    Until other apps have the momentum to build decent leader boards for segments they won't have the competition element that makes Strava interesting.

    It's a pity, because I'd like API access back.

    Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Yes and no.

      The segment leader boards are certainly an advantage but others are coming up with similar data. As leader boards become more popular they are getting less useful, filled with overlapping segments, erratic data from all sorts of sources, and cheaters.

      And as a software developer, you should understand that by closing a system and creating your own small ecosystem, it will be hard to keep it alive. Today's world works by the rule that the more connections you have the more successful you will be (IMHO). As an example take a look at Google's Page Rank, at retweets on Twitter and Facebook likes.

      Reply
  96. Don

    Can you find and do a blog on alternatives to Strava?

    Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      That's a good question and maybe Ray will get to that. My opinion is that if you are using Strava for the leaderboard feature, than at the moment, and please anyone correct me if I am wrong, there is no strong replacement for Strava at the moment as not only do they have a pretty complete system for handling and viewing the leaderboard, but they have accumulated a large database so wherever you ride you will probably find riders who have done those segments.

      Instead if you are looking at it more for analyzing/storing your own data, or you are looking for a more "social" media site, then there are many, many alternatives. From Garmin Connect, to MapMyRide/MapMyRun, RunKeeper, RideWithGPS, and so many, many more, which actually do a much better job than Strava; e.g. I like MapMyRide because it does a pretty good job at rating climbs so I know what I'm getting into or what I've done before/after a ride. But each has its strong point and a nice blog talking about the merits of each one would be useful.

      As a note, there are many apps, including my own, LogMyTraining app store linkwhich also offer many offline ways of storing and viewing your data on mobile platofmrs.

      Reply
    • Rich replied

      I'd love to see this. Having recorded 4+ years of my rides now, I get pretty worried about ownership of data, etc. I've gone through multiple GPS units, used phone apps off and on, etc, ending up with a mess of TCX/GPX/FIT files sitting around, and other rides locked up in a few different apps or websites I haven't put in the effort to try and export from... just making me realize being able to reel in my data and easily keep control of it is important to me.

      Reply
    • Chris Jennings replied

      Map My Ride has courses that seem to be like segments but I've never done one and it doesn't seem to compatible to strava and their massive database of segments.

      Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      @Rich. My advice. Accumulate all the data from the other websites and try to have a local copy of everything. And if you want to be really sure, throw them all in a dropbox account for double security. As you noted any app or website you have used could not be there tomorrow.
      And if I may plug my own app, if you have an iPhone/iPad, LogMyTraining (see link in previous post) is free. If you have all your data locally or on dropbox in .tcx/.gpx/.hrm format, you just throw it into the app and its all there for you.
      @Chris. Yes, I agree. No one is going to compete at the moment with massive DB that Strava has.

      Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      It's something I consider from time to time (site reviews). The challenge I have is similar to app reviews, in that things change so quickly and so often that it makes it difficult for the posts to stay relevant.

      For myself, I use TrainingPeaks as my primary database (the one where everything is accurate/correct), and then I let my devices upload to Garmin Connect as my 'backup' database - everything is in there. I also have copies of most of my files offline in folders on my PC's (I just copy/paste the folders from time to time to a separate folder). That folder is then sync'd on Skydrive as well.

      Reply
    • Mans M replied

      @Ray
      I use garmin sync, garminsync copies automagically from garmin to runkeeper (which has bulk export avail) and strava.

      So if you prefer to be lazy ;-)

      Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      GarminSync doesn't handle private activities well, which makes it a challenge for me. I use private activities for a variety of reasons - but mostly just because I'm often testing things that may not be public yet.

      Additionally, data files processed by Garmin Connect have historically been just slightly different than those pre-processed on your drive. Files from the Garmin Swim are a really good example of this, where once it comes out the other end, it's not quite a twin of what went in.

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      Adding the garminsync user as a contact doesn't work for you?
      link to garminconnectsync.uservoice.com
      Thats how I handle private activities

      Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Except then by default they don't show up as Private. They show up as the default on Strava (or the target system). So my default on Strava is public, but my default on Garmin Connect is private. Garmin Connect is effectively the 'master', but GarminSync won't keep the private/public setting for each individual activity.

      Honestly, it sorta doesn't matter too much, since I'll likely always keep a copy of the raw data somewhere - mostly for clean analysis reasons.

      Reply
  97. Derrick Chao

    This is the most refreshing and comprehensive criticism of Strava I've ever read. I've been using the product now for years (both as a paying Premium member, and more recently not) and this is spot on. Over the years, I've witnessed sweeping, sometimes baffling UI changes with absolutely zero communication to the end user, forcing me to clumsily figure out where to look for certain features.

    One thing I've observed about this company over the years is an incongruous lack of communication with its users and cowardice when it does (rare for modern technology companies - especially a small-ish startup based around user-contributed data).

    To wit, when the company was (frivolously) sued by the family of Kim Flint, the cyclist killed trying to acquire a KOM on a descent, Strava hired a PR individual named "Mark Riedy" to provide the quote in the article. Why was the founder hiding in the shadows throughout this? It seemed strange to me that a small company built around community would resort to hiring a PR spokesperson (rare in general for Silicon Valley companies).

    When Strava entered the public spotlight for a second time after Chris Bucchere struck and killed that poor pedestrian in a crosswalk, Strava updated its terms and conditions to include an indemnification clause. In their email and blog post regarding their updated T's and C's though, they cite that "the updated terms clarify things related to our mobile apps, as well as real-world races and events that you might participate in that use Strava's site." Nowhere do they mention the addition of the indemnification clause - if that's what you're really trying to do, just update it behind the scenes and have us click a link the next time we log on that says the user agreement's been updated - why sugar coat it?

    Soon thereafter (or maybe around the same time), they also create and publish their 5 "corporate values" (link to app.strava.com) that in my opinion just reinforce the cowardice, lack of transparency, and lack of accountability at the leadership level. If you haven't read it, go ahead and so and let me know if you feel as uninspired as I do.

    Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Derrick.. interesting observations. They are just cop-outs as you have clearly expressed and there seems to be a bit of hubris in their attitude.
      BTW, the principal founder is Michael Horvath. In all the communications with the company I did not get the open-minded, transparent feeling that I have had with other competing companies.

      Reply
    • Matt S replied

      Derrick,
      Nice, thoughtful, and well written criticism. I hadn't verbalized it so eloquently but I agree completely.

      Playing devil's advocate, in their defense they are a young start up with wild growth so any mistakes they make will be compounded exponentially as a result. I believe they have good intentions but the API v3 debacle was foolishly executed - from a planning, strategy, and execution perspective.

      I suspect they saw some potential threats to the integrity of their data (e.g. DigitalEPO) and wanted to put a quick kibosh on it. This is, of course, all speculation since, to your point, they've lacked transparency.

      Reply
  98. Tim Freeman

    Hi All,
    This has all been very disappointing. I thought I should pass on some positive news. I had been using Chaser on WP8 which has been removed from the marketplace. I have now switched to CycloMeter on WP8 and finding it good. CycloMeter now provide email upload support (as of 12 hours ago). Seems to work really nicely.

    Reply
  99. Matt S

    I just turned off my annual Premium auto-renewal after seeing Jonathan O'Keeffe's message pointing to this article.

    Garmin Connect is my primary tool for tracking.
    RideWithGPS is my primary tool for mapping.
    Strava is 90% a tool for accessing nice 3rd party apps. (10% seeing what friends are doing)

    Aren't 3rd party tools a very cost effective way for companies like Strava to get free developer resources while testing market interest in new features? Silly decision and terrible handling of the problem.

    No 3rd party tools = no Strava Premium.

    Reply
  100. Hi guys,

    just wanted to let you know that Strava reverted their original decision and gave us access to the new API. There is already a new version on the app store that exports to Strava. Many thanks to all our users that sent a clear message.

    Reply
    • Same here :)
      I also received a surprise invitation to use the v3 api with RunGap yesterday and will look into it ASAP.
      In the mean time the current version of RunGap still works nicely with Strava (as well as 10 other popular services).
      Thanks!

      Reply
    • ifor replied

      I got access to the V3 API as well. It would be interesting to know if they have given everyone that asked for it access now or just an expanded list.

      I have just released a new version of IpBike with direct upload support back in. There are even some small improvements to what I can do but unfortunately not setting the gear automatically which I do with most sites with a concept of gear so Strava are still missing out a bit.

      Reply
  101. I didn't get access (LogMyTraining).

    Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      In all fairness to Strava, they recently gave all of my apps access to their new API And it seems from other responses that they are making an effort to get all developers onboard.
      They have been very helpful and I would like to add that their developer support so far has been exceptional. So.. all said and done, having been very outspoken, I think that Strava has responded well to criticism here and in other forums, and hope that they will continue to encourage third party developers.
      Thanks also to Ray.

      Reply
  102. Jeff B

    Lots of chatter about strava. From my standpoint, strava is just a tool to help me vent my competitive nature and socialize with my cycling buddies. I have a Garmin 510, auto-upload everything to connect, and manually add to strava (or plug in). Once I upload, I count how many KOMs/top 10s I received then go on with my life. I wake up the next day with one goal: become a better cyclist. Strava is a tool but it seems some people are married to this app! Less worrying about strava and how this *business* plans to make money, and more worrying about getting stronger and smarter on the bike!!! And maybe you'll get some KOMs too. Just my take, there are plenty 'eviler' companies out there to worry about.

    Reply
    • Randell replied

      Agreed. Strava witch hunt is whack.

      Reply
  103. David George

    There was another thing that ticked me off with Strava, you can no longer embed an image in the comments. I guess they have sold their soul to instagram and that is why this feature no longer works.

    I would actually use instagram but first time I installed it, it bricked my phone which took some serious voodoo to recover then I found someone had used my email to register on instagram and had blocked the account.

    Reply
  104. Alcatraz Rob

    Hi
    Updated the Strava apps on my phone yesterday and went for a ride today. I collect data with the Wahoo fitness app then upload to Strava. So just got back from a fairly hilly ride, feeling quite pleased with myself. Uploaded to strava and there is No elevation, energy or power data available. So have they messed up an update or is this an attempt to make this data only available to paid users? I've emailed them and will let u know.

    Reply
    • Alcatraz Rob replied

      Ok.
      Data now there. Just a glitch.

      Reply
  105. The 8 Horse

    And now this: link to road.cc

    Reply
    • Randell replied

      "Hey, no fair! You're riding too fast! Slow down so I can talk about my feelings!" This is silly. There are club rides of every skill level. Cycling is both a sport and a hobby. For some, the competitive element is fun & motivating. For others, it's simply about being outside, getting exercise and enjoying friendly association. The existence of one doesn't erase the other. Live and let live.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      That's interesting, but also kinda wonky. Would love to know why he's so upset at Strava.

      Reply
  106. Ian

    All the above 'restrictions' make it seem like Apple and it's tie you into in house approved vehicles. I use Strava and like the ease of comparing without too much data analysis. If I ever can afford (or even want, again, being a non data muncher) a power meter I am sure I would up from a free Training Peaks to the full monty. For now, the two free work ok.

    The worst thing for me and, I think it is purely an ego thing - but Strava's big pull is to use our ego's to compare with others, don't deny it folks! - is the inaccuracy of the metres gained when people use their smart phone app. It's way off. iPhone the worst it seems - I have seen an extra 30-50% metres gained versus a Garmin GPS upload. For the ego, it hurts. But for accuracy, it's a let down really. I use my Garmin still, unless it has it's occasional hissy fit or I am out of batteries and need to phone app it up.

    Reply
  107. Marcin Gryszkalis

    Just as a follow up - Strava provided bulk export option some time ago:
    link to engineering.strava.com

    Nevertheless I miss the real API...

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Good to see they're making progress. Note, that was a month after my post however. ;)

      Reply
    • simon replied

      has anybody tried this export ? did the bulk export and it gave me a bunch of GPX files but when I try to upload into TP the HR info is missing. Seems to be there in the GPX so something screwy about the files or TP upload ?

      TCX from garmin connect work fine

      Reply
  108. HR is an extension to the .gpx format. It's not guaranteed that all programs can deal with the extensions. If you are not getting it in TP then either they didn't implement the extension the way TP expected it, or TP just doesn't do those extensions. From the looks of the Strava .gpx they did use the Garmin TPX extensions.

    Reply
  109. Neil S

    Looks like Strava have added a desire to control our desktop environments to their list of achievements too.... IE8 support has been 'on notice' for ages, but now no longer works at all with Garmin connect plugins after a recent update. Their only suggestion.... use a different browser.... OK if you aren't stuck on XP and don't want a MS browser... but for a huge chunk of users, that's not practical.
    Strava need to look at the hundreds (or even thousands) of other sites using Connect... they seem to be getting along just fine.
    I love the Strava concept, but am rapidly losing any respect for their approach to social.

    Reply
    • Randell replied

      Neil, download Google Chrome for free. It works great.

      Reply
  110. Ton

    Thanks Ray for again a brilliant article.
    In the last few months I have become extremely frustrated by Strava in how they handle data from Suunto devices. In short.... They don't. And if you talk to them they simply answer that they have no intend to make it work in the future.
    I love my Suunto Ambit2, and I like the idea of sharing information about my rides with friends. I thought Strava was the place to be, but I have learned that it is not.
    Yes you can share information with friends directly from your device, but only if you use Garmin. It is the same as only being allowed to use Twitter from a Samsung device.
    Yes, I know there is a trick where you can upload gpx data files! but the interpretation of this data by Strava is hopeless. Distances and heights are never correct.
    Today my frustration made me type "Strava alternatives" in Google, and I found this article. Great write-up. Strava is like a drifting ship at sea with a captain that is sending away all help. Within a limited time it will hit the rocks and the party is over.
    My guess would be that it is time for a major management change within a company that holds so much potential.

    This article helped me to make up my mind. I am ending my premium subscription with Strava today. I don't have an alternative yet, but at least it will take away a lot of frustration.

    T

    Reply
  111. Arnd

    I use an Ambit 2s and I have no problems with uploading to Strava. The watch automatically uploads to Movescount. Then I export the activity and save it on my PC. Having a copy of that is nice anyway for reasons debated in this very article. Uploading to Strava takes 2 seconds and a total of 3 clicks. I have absolutely no issue with the inpretation with the data, its exactly the same apart from filtering out stops.

    Reply
  112. Ton

    Thank you for your comment.
    My experiences are completely different. I agree that it is not very difficult to download the gpx file and then upload it to Strava, but the data on Strava is significantly different from the data on Movescount. Especially altitude or heightmeters. I see this regularly after riding together with a friend. Strava puts the two seperate data nicely together, but although it is the same trip the heightmeters are completely different. I am talking about a difference of 10-30%. It is fine if you dont care about these things, but I find it rather annoying.
    Another issue that I have is that there is no effort made to make the upload from Suunto devices easier.
    It is like writing your message in facebook, then download the datafile. Next upload it to twitter and press send.....
    But my comments are not meant to start a discussion here about Suunto to Strava. There is a forum on Strava where this is discussed in full length.
    All I wanted to say is that this great article has made my ideas about Strava stronger. I am not happy (personal opinion) and don't understand the strategy. Strava has huge potential, but they are breaking it down with an unbelievable speed.
    Thanks,

    T

    Reply
  113. Arnd

    Now that I looked at it again, you´re right, the altitude data is different in strava and it looks wrong. I didn´t notice that before because that not a value I care about too much.

    Reply
  114. It seems like Rays article did stir the pot, this post on their blog


    engineering.strava.com/get-your-strava-api-here/

    makes Strava sound like they realize if they don't give people access they will start loosing many of the prime influencers that get inspire their friends to use strava.. I have built a free HRV app for training recovery tracking http://www.hrvplus.com, and I was trying to decide do I integrate with Strava or Runkeeper, sounds like Runkeeper is the right answer. I just wish runkeeper had something more built into the core like TSS (from training peaks) or Suffer Score, Polar has Training Load... Strava start listening... I am going to use runkeeper...

    Reply
  115. Doug

    I hope Strava pulls out of what seems (to me) as alienating its user base. The run redesign almost a year ago was not well received (link to strava.zendesk.com) and issues with it from almost a year ago they were going to fix are still issues. Then they rolled out the ride redesign with many of the same problems (e.g. no way to compare your efforts you your best, or the KoM). With this roll out they just turned off the comments where people were leaving feedback (link to strava.zendesk.com).

    It is distressing to see functionality removed and broken, and feedback and suggestions ignored.

    Reply
  116. Sean

    wow - this seems like an overblown reaction to a company that provides such an excellent service (which can be used free of charge!) taking (a hard) decision to actually improve their product in the long run (no pun intended).

    not sure how much you know about IT/tech but sometimes you have to make changes that (eg) are not backward compatible, etc. i'll bet strava today is much better than it was when this article was written.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's true, it's better today. But only because they made changes due to the post gathering so much attention, which some Strava employees have essentially admitted to me as much.

      Reply
    • Jon Zaid replied

      Sean,

      You are a little late on this post. I think Ray knows a LOT about IT. As for myself I am a long-time software developer. We understand backwards compatibility and moving ahead, but this was not the issue. Developers were willing to update their code to be compatible with the new authentication schemes but at the time Strava's decision was to NOT give us access to the authentication, for reasons which did not seem to be valid. And, yes, the change in heart was most probably due to Ray's post and insistence. We are lucky to have Ray as not only our guide into all products tech/sport, but as our industry champion.
      BTW, to go slightly off-topic, we are now in a similar situation with Garmin Connect.

      Reply
  117. Ton

    Movescount has a added a functionality to directly upload your data to Strava. Thank you Suunto!

    Reply
  118. Great article as always. Thanks to you and others, this has fortunately placed healthy pressure on Strava to quit screwing around like this.

    What seems astounding to me is the extent to which a company as tech-savvy and innovative as Strava could make such a crucial mistake in reading the signs of our data-rich times: these data are OURS, like all other that we generate in our everyday life, even if we temporarily choose to entrust them to third-party companies like Strava for purposes of safe-keeping, reporting or visualization.

    To misunderstand this simple concept is to misunderstand the age in which we live. Any company (and there are plenty) who disrespect this natural ownership rigth will have to pay a heavy price moving forward.

    Obivously RunKeeper and the likes of TrainingPeaks "get it". Looks like Strava has been dragged back onto the straight and narrow.

    Alan (fellow Parisian)

    Reply
  119. Alan, this is old news. Strava did "get it", I think in part (or whole, who knows?) thanks to Ray. The new culprit is Garmin, who is asking $5000 to each developer in order for their apps to allow YOU to have access to YOUR data. Note that Strava, RunKeeper, SportTracks Mobi, MapMyFitness, and others all offer this free to developers and to add, well-documented.

    Reply
  120. EddNog

    Slightly off yet on topic, has anyone tried the new Routes integration with the latest app updates? Does it do turn-by-turn instruction now based off routes?

    Reply
  121. runner123

    Hi rain maker,
    i have a problem with my strava. Why doesnt the strava set my 10K best time in my profile, eventhough i've ran my best time. i'm sure its written 10KM when i uploaded it using my watch. Can you please help me?? TKS.

    Reply
  122. KiM

    Strava sells user data: link to tuaw.com

    Reply
  123. I don't think there is anything wrong with it. Nothing wrong with companies making money, they are respecting our privacy and they are giving us quite a service for free. I guess instead of doing this they could just start charging all users, even for basic features.

    Reply

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>