Climbing Out of the Sandbox
Dealing with certification and going “live."
eBay is understandably protective about any access it permits through its API. To that end, they provide the Sandbox, a “dummy” eBay site with which you can test your programs to your heart’s content.
The Sandbox is located at http://cgi.sandbox.ebay.com/, and looks (and acts) just like eBay.com. Although it’s nearly fully functional (some features don’t work at all), its auction and user databases are completely separate from the main eBay site.
The idea is that you can create user accounts, list items, bid, and even check out, all without incurring the fees and API call limits that would otherwise prevent you from freely testing your application or scripts.
Although the Sandbox is not bug-free and is often a few months behind eBay.com when it comes to new features and interface changes, it’s stable where it counts. It’s accepted as fact that any code that works in the Sandbox will work on the live eBay.com site.
Before your application goes “live,” meaning that it can be used on what eBay calls the “production servers” (not just the Sandbox), you must complete certification.
Now, the fact that certification is a required step and costs money ($100 for Individual-tier developers) may make it seem more like a barrier than a service. However, eBay’s reasoning is that it ultimately benefits developers as much as it benefits eBay.
For developers working under the Individual license, the certification ...