Simon Willison’s Weblog

Entries tagged apis

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Datasette: instantly create and publish an API for your SQLite databases

I just shipped the first public version of datasette, a new tool for creating and publishing JSON APIs for SQLite databases.

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Which format for API documentation programmers prefer: PDF or Web?

HTML is a better format for documentation than PDF.

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Does the Google Maps API let you remove details of the map such as street names to focus on pins on the map?

Yes—you can do this with map styles (which allow you to set the visibility if road labels, among other things): http://developers.google.com/map...

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Which is the most complete and up to date API for restaurants/nightlife?

The foursquare API is pretty great for restaurants and nightlife these days. No chance if revenue share though—how would you envisage revenue share working?

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Which free encyclopedias offer free APIs?

Wikipedia runs using Mediawiki, and Mediawiki has an API: http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/API

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What information do you feel is most valuable when integrating a Web API (REST or SOAP)?

  • A really good API explorer
  • Comprehensive documentation of the response format, including what happens if certain fields are missing (empty string, null value, missing key?)
  • Comprehensive documentation of the available request parameters, including allowed values
  • What are the rate limits?
  • What is returned if there is an error?

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Is it possible to embed Skype into a webpage to use as live chat support for free?

Olark offer a very neat JavaScript widget that does exactly this (it’s text-based messaging, not video or voice): http://www.olark.com/—you can try their demo at the bottom of their page.

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Does Amazon have a API for websites to utilize order and delivery fulfillment?

The Amazon Fulfillment Web Service used to handle this http://aws.amazon.com/fws/—but their site now says "Effective June 2012, Amazon Services will no longer support Amazon Fulfillment Web Service (Amazon FWS). All functions and services currently supported by Amazon FWS are currently available through Amazon Marketplace Web Service (Amazon MWS)." So I guess you want the Amazon Marketplace Web Service: https://developer.amazonservices...

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Are there any website thumbnail services that generate images in real-time?

http://url2png.com/ generates images on demand—you pass the URL directly to the service and it replies with a PNG image. The first load can take a few seconds (depending on how long it takes the originating site to serve up the assets etc) but they cache the generated images so future requests for the same URL will be served instantly.

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Is there an API that returns metadata for a given URL?

I suggest taking a look at http://embed.ly/—it can take a huge range of URLs and turn them in to JSON metadata. Here’s what it can do with a Wikipedia page: http://embed.ly/docs/explore/obj...—and here’s Google Maps URL (not as useful, but still some interesting metadata extracted) http://embed.ly/docs/explore/obj...

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Are there any Meta APIs?

Embed.ly is a good example of this kind of API—it gives you one endpoint which wraps oembed APIs on dozens of other services (plus a bunch of custom scraping code). We use it as part of our video/slide embedding feature on http://lanyrd.com/

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What are some scalable OAuth and OpenID server implementations?

Any OAuth library should scale horizontally—I can’t see how any one library would be a better choice than another.

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Does Twitter use a 3rd party software for rate limiting their APIs? If yes, who’s the 3rd party?

I wrote up a technique for doing simple rate limiting using memcached a while ago, which I later found out was somewhat similar to how the Twitter API does it.

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What is the best way to maintain a API wrapper class across multiple languages?

1. Use JSON for your API. That takes away a lot of the necessity for an API wrapper, since it means you’re automatically returning native data types (hashes, lists, strings etc) for most programming languages.

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What company had the first API?

They weren’t the first to have an API, but Flickr were the first consumer web site that really pushed the concept in my opinion. They originally promoted it as “you can always get your data back if you want to”, but they then greatly benefited from the ecosystem that grew up around it.

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A few notes on the Guardian Open Platform

This morning we launched the Guardian Open Platform at a well attended event in our new offices in Kings Place. This is one of the main projects I’ve been helping out with since joining the Guardian last year, and it’s fantastic to finally have it out in the open.

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Pragmatism, purity and JSON content types

I started a conversation about this on Twitter the other day, but Twitter is a horrible place to have an archived discussion so I’m going to try again here.

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Figuring out OpenSocial

So it’s out, and lots of people are talking about it, but I’m still trying to work out exactly what it is. There seem to be two parts to it: a standardised set of GData APIs for accessing lists of friends and their activities (like the Facebook news feed) and a bunch of JavaScript APIs for enabling developers to write hostable widgets and “container sites” to embed those widgets.

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