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Tutorials, case studies and how-tos from our experts

Getting Started With the Dropbox API

Boasting more than 500 million users, Dropbox has been a bona fide giant of the cloud-based file storage world since its release in 2008. Dropbox became the first of the ‘folder sync’ storage applications to become a household name, having been originally conceived when one of its co-founders left his USB flash drive at home and was stuck with no way to access his necessary files for a college class. As a result, Dropbox has become ubiquitous with users looking to manage their files and documents in the cloud, and heavily utilized by applications looking to provide their users with storage integrations. The Dropbox API is your entrance to harnessing the power of the popular cloud storage service in your application.

Having worked with the Dropbox API quite a bit, we decided to write up a brief tutorial to help others learn how to use the Dropbox API. Getting started with the Dropbox API is relatively easy and requires you to go through a simple setup process on the Dropbox developer portal before you can allow users or organizations to access their documents and data from within your application.

Setting Up Your Application in the Dropbox API Developer Portal

Connecting your application to Dropbox first requires you to set up an account. If you do not have a Dropbox account, sign up here, but otherwise, login to the developer console here.

If you haven’t yet, click ‘Create app’ to create an application. 

Which API?

The Dropbox API has a different purpose than the Dropbox Business API. If you are creating a Business-to-Consumer application, then you will choose the first option. Otherwise, if you need access to businesses and organizations that use Dropbox for team functionality, you would choose the second option.

App Permissions Model

Dropbox recommends choosing the New “Scoped Access” permission model. The scope here refers to OAuth 2.0, and what actions your application is allowed to perform on a user’s data. This is Dropbox’s OAuth Guide. We recommend the following scopes:

  • account_info.read (default)
  • files.content.read
  • files.content.write
  • files.metadata.read
  • Files.metadata.write

The scopes you have selected are then applied to your access token and determine the API calls your application is allowed to make on behalf of the user. This information is relayed to the user on the Dropbox app authorization page when a user consents to give your application access to their personal or organizational data.

To find out exactly what scope is necessary for any given endpoint, please consult the Dropbox HTTP documentation.

Dropbox Access

We recommend Full Dropbox Access unless you are creating an app that only connects with Dropbox.

This is required so that users will see your logo when granting access to their account via the 3-legged OAuth 2.0 flow.

Finally, name your application and provide a brief description of your app’s purpose. Upload your logo and once your application has been created, you will receive an App Key and App Secret (or otherwise known as a Client ID and Client Secret).


Making Your First Dropbox API Request

Once your application has been configured in the Dropbox developer portal, you are free to use your secret credentials to make calls to any endpoints available to you. User endpoints and Business endpoints vary greatly, so please check the documentation to find the proper endpoints for your applications’ use case.

As an example, we’ll make a call to the /members/listendpoint. This endpoint is part of the Business Dropbox API and retrieves a list of all team members associated with a given team. Its permission is Team Information, and it falls under the scope of members.read

A sample curl request to the endpoint will be structured as so:

As long as you have supplied a valid access token, the response data will come back structured like so:

Kloudless Is the Best Way to Integrate Dropbox

Integrating with Dropbox can take as much as 6 months of development time, and that’s not taking into account the ongoing maintenance and support to keep that connection sound in the future. 

The Kloudless Unified Cloud Storage API was built to connect your application with Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, SharePoint, One Drive, and more. With Kloudless, you can take advantage of full CRUD and cross-cloud file transfer between your app and any cloud storage service your users need access to. Kloudless offers extensive activity monitoring and webhooks to all of our connectors, as well as support for all major event bus services.

Kloudless also takes away the headache of maintenance and API updates, so your development team can focus on what’s important: Your app’s core functionality.

Using Kloudless With Dropbox

You can sign up today for a free developer account with Kloudless and get started with integrating to Dropbox or any of the other connectors provided in the Unified Cloud Storage API. 

Once signed in, you will find the Callback URL or redirect URI under THIRD-PARTY SERVICES => Configuration. Please click the SaaS product Dropbox and select “Use Your Dropbox Keys.”

After filling in the Client ID and Client Secret, you will also need to set a specific Callback URL or Redirect URI from the Dropbox Developer portal. Click Save and you’re all set.

To learn more about the Kloudless Unified Cloud Storage API, please visit our product page or direct any inquiries to hello@kloudless.com.


Published By

David Hallinan

David Hallinan is an Integration Strategist and Head of Marketing at Kloudless. He enjoys painting, JavaScript, vintage synths, drum machines and forcing his sports allegiances on his children.

View all posts by David Hallinan