All posts tagged ‘API’

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Hack the Presidential Campaign

XML from NYTimes Campaign Finance APIThe New York Times this week announced the first of what it says will be many API datasets that it is making available to developers. The new API provides a way to access the total of donations over $200 to each candidate in the U.S. presidential election, including the primaries.

There are a lot of possibilities for slicing and dicing the Federal Election Commission data. In addition to totals for each candidate, the API makes state and zip code totals available, also sliced by candidate. Currently the data is through August. There will be two more updates before the election and a final tally in early December.

With the U.S. presidential election weeks away, this first API from The New York Times is well timed. The newspaper promises many more APIs in the future, including movie reviews, which is currently in the works.

Using the API requires a account and an API key, both of which are available for free.

This campaign has already had many new uses of technology and the web. We look forward to the mashups and other visualizations of this data that are sure to come in the next few weeks.

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Netflix API Brings Movie Catalog to Your App

delivered by NetflixMovie rental site Netflix announced an API to access its massive catalog of films and movie people. Applications written on the API can also let users login using OAuth to access their movie queues.

In the past Netflix has fostered its developer community by providing private feeds and sponsoring the Netflix prize for improving its recommendation system. When the API announcement came through, I had to think twice because it seemed unlikely that Netflix didn’t already have an API.

Surprisingly, this is the first official API from Netflix, though developers previously went as far as creating a third party API. It looks like the wait was worth it, as Netflix has opened up its database of movies, actors, and directors. Applications can also manage a user’s queue and link directly to instant viewing, meaning developers can create entirely different ways of accessing the most common features.

As I’ve alluded to, the great thing here is its catalog of movies. Search by title and you get a list of results with information about movies that match. In addition, Netflix provides a list of several related movies for each search result. Super cool.

Like the recently-released Evernote API, Netflix uses the OAuth standard for authenticating users. Major props to Netflix for embracing this standard, a big step toward distributing services across the web.

Highlight URL template and Flixotize it, Flixo asks for missing arguments

As part of the release, Netflix created a Firefox extension, Flixo, to browse the API without having to write code. This is a great way to get a feeling for how to use the API. It shows XML results from the API, so it’s for developers. It might be a little buggy, but it’s better than trying out API calls manually when you just want to see what the results will be.

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Android Announcement Coincides with Developer Treats

With Google’s announcement comes a little basket of treats for Google’s engineering base: the first full release of the Software Development Kit (SDK), featuring all the new features and associated Application Programming Interfaces (API) of the Android operating system.

SDKs and APIs, FYI (oh my). Okay, okay. I can hear your groans from here. Moving on…

What’s new?

  • Apps on Android can access core mobile device functionality through standard APIs. Through intents, apps can announce their capabilities for other apps to use
  • Any app on the mobile device can be replaced or extended — even core components such as the dialer or home
  • Apps can easily embed HTML, Javascript, and style sheets. An app can render web content through a WebView
  • Android is a complete multitasking environment where apps can run in parallel. While running in the background, an app can produce notifications to get attention

The API’s and SDK are refined enough that Google feels it is okay to claim it won’t change before the open source operating system is available “later this year.” If there are any developers on the fence for fear of changing platform issues, I guess now is the time to download the latest version.

Details on the eventual open source release of the Android operating system is available on Google’s code site.

File Under: Mobile

Plan the End of Overnight Coding With Our Sample SMS Application

Example results from SMS appCoding into the night is in every webmonkey’s DNA. How do you know when it’s time to stop and go to sleep? Use our new SMS application to tell you when the sun will rise.

Don’t exit out of terminal, just pick up your mobile phone. Text to 41411 with the word sunrise followed by your city, zip code, or even exact address. You’ll have the information you want texted back to you immediately. As a bonus, we toss in time the sun will set, so you know when to start coding.

The application uses TextMarks (which we wrote about along with other tools for SMS applications) to send/receive the text message, Google’s geocoder to get the latitude/longitude points, and EarthTools for the sunrise data.

I wrote how I created the SMS application in our new tutorial. If you can write server code to take an argument in the URL (ie, example.php?name=Adam), then you can write an SMS app yourself. Be sure and tell us what you build so we can feature it on Webmonkey.

A note about the sunrise data: EarthTools does not have daylight savings time data for the US at this time, so some queries may be off by an hour. The application sends the time we think it is, so if that’s off, adjust the sunrise. Have experience with daylight savings time or sunrise data? Let me know in the comments.

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Wolfenflickr Mashes Flickr API With Retro Gaming

Wolfenflickr kittens!

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a creative use of the Flickr API. Jacob Seidelin wrote Wolfenflickr entirely in JavaScript. It’s a take-off of early 90s Wolfenstein 3-D, which popularized the first person shooter genre of video games.

In Seidelin’s version there’s no shooting, but you can navigate a “secret level.” Instead of Nazi flags, there’s art in the form of Flickr photos. You can pass it your username to see your photos, or a search term to see the results on the walls of Castle Wolfenstein. It’s been having trouble loading all the pics for me, but if you use your up arrow to go straight ahead you’ll find a room where the images appear to load first.

I hope examples like this will encourage others to use the Flickr API. The image sharing granddaddy has always embraced their developer community, most recently with a dedicated Flickr API site. Check that out for lots of information about the technical side of Flickr. To get started with your own app, be sure to check out our Flickr API Tutorial.

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