RIP Unsplash Source

Published July 3, 2024

I’ve been an Unsplash user for a while. Over 8 years—I just checked and I made my account in early 2016. Now, 300+ photos later, I’m still a fan. In particular, the founding team behind Crew (now acquired by Dribbble) and Unsplash have some great written content that I link to on /blogroll.

Unsplash Source pre-dated their official fully-featured API and provided an easy way to get images from the Unsplash service, in a few main ways:

  1. A random photo, in general
  2. A random photo, from a specific collection (a dynamic or static grouping of photos)
  3. A random photo, from a specific user

This was a great way to easily add high quality images to complement your other content, or for me, show off some of my favorite photos that I’ve taken.

I’ve been using Unsplash Source on two personal sites (this blog and my barebones portfolio I created in 2016) for exactly that: display a random photo from a collection of my personal photos that I curated. The service made it easy:

<img src="https://source.unsplash.com/collection/67920491">

If you’re curious, here’s the collection: https://unsplash.com/collections/67920491

Here’s the problem: source.unsplash.com is completely deprecated. Retroactively I did find an announcement from back in late 2021 announcing the deprecation, but that never crossed my radar until recently when I noticed that source.unsplash.com was displaying the generic Heroku application error.

In mid-June I emailed Unsplash support mentioning this observation, since it had been a couple business days since I’d noticed the problem.

My email to support@unsplash.com.My email to support@unsplash.com.

I received no response.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any way to get the same functionality using their API as-is. If I find the time or motivation, I might try to build a custom one-off bit of software for myself to do the same thing. Perhaps a good excuse to try one of the many serverless platforms around these days. In my research, I found this reddit thread which brings up some potential alternatives.

At any rate: it’s a bummer. I’m not a fan when things like this get deprecated without any documented workarounds, migration strategy, or communication in general. In an ideal world, Unsplash would open source the Source application so it could be self-hosted.


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Last modified July 3, 2024  #photography 

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