How Fflick Uses APIs to Tap the Movie Hivemind

Adam DuVander
Aug. 16 2010, 05:34PM EDT

Perhaps you're wondering which movie to see tonight? You could ask your friends on Twitter, or you could use Fflick to find out what they've already said. Fflick is a social movie review site, where the reviews come in bite-sized pieces from Twitter. The way its developers combine the reviews with other APIs and visuals shows how an excellent site can be built by bringing in content from elsewhere.

The most impressive piece is how Fflick mines Twitter to find tweets that include mini movie reviews. It looks for the name of a movie (or sometimes a portion of a movie name). From there, it also attempts to determine the positive or negative sentiment, seemingly by looking for specific words in a tweet.

Since most tweets are public, you could be providing movie reviews even if you have never seen Fflick. And many of your friends likely are. You can optionally give Fflick access to your Twitter account, which gives you a list of your friends' reviews.

One factor that makes Fflick visually striking is its use of relatively large movie poster images. According to Fflick's Kurt Wilms, other APIs are included to retrieve these graphics:

"We use a combination of an internal tool, the Netflix API, and the movie studio extranets to get the posters."

Other potential sources might be shopping APIs, such as Best Buy Remix or Amazon Product Advertising. In March we wrote about a site to share your DVD collection, which included DVD covers from Best Buy's API.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

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