Import.io Showcases Unofficial World Cup, Wimbledon APIs

Patricio Robles
Jul. 02 2014, 04:20PM EDT

Import.io, a structured web data scraping platform, is using the World Cup and Wimbledon to demonstrate its wares by creating a portfolio of APIs around the sporting events.

Countless millions of sports fans around the world are using the Internet to follow World Cup and Wimbledon action, and import.io is enabling developers to build applications that serve these fans by offering comprehensive data sets its platform gathers and makes accessible via REST APIs. The World Cup data includes team lists, team players, goals, match results, standings, top scorers and player valuations. The data sets offered through the Wimbledon API provide live scores, tennis player profiles, and stats and result histories.

Import.io's platform automatically updates this data in real time as the source data changes. In addition to being accessible via API, import.io allows users to interact with the data and export it in a variety of downloadable formats. To assist developers, import.io has set up GitHub repositories containing JavaScript and Python examples showing how its APIs can be used.

Unofficial APIs, Missed Opportunities?

Import.io's APIs are unofficial, but according to import.io's Dan Cave, that's not a problem. "All the data that we used to create these visualizations is publicly available," he explained. "In essence, you could create these same visualizations by copying all the information by hand. Import.io acts as a pipeline that allows you to get the information in a form that is easier to use and that can be updated live."

He added, "Of course, it’s always preferable for the organizations to offer an official API, and I think this is slowly starting to become apparent. People are clearly hungry for this data, and they are doing some really cool stuff with it."

Cave points to an interactive Top Scorers tool that a developer created using import.io's World Cup APIs as an example of the type of innovation that is possible when data is available.

"I think sometimes the official organizations are worried that they may lose some sort of competitive advantage by making the data available, but in reality they would be opening up the door for innovation," Cave told me. "[Transport for London] wasn’t initially pleased back in 2008 when people started using their data to create travel apps, but they quickly realized that it actually led to a better commuting experience and more site traffic for them, and now they offer their data over an official API."

Whether more sports organizations will choose to launch comprehensive official APIs with liberal usage policies remains to be seen, but it's clear that unless and until they do, unofficial APIs will continue to proliferate.

In the meantime, Cave suggests that sports organizations embrace the popularity of the unofficial APIs. "Unofficial APIs allow people access to ... data without the organizations having to lift a finger. It's a great, literally no-cost way for them to generate more interest in the sport, and it drives lots of traffic to their site."

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