Today in APIs: Digital Public Library Launch, Google Glass API Limits, and 20 New APIs

Greg Bates
Apr. 22 2013, 01:00PM EDT

Digital Public Library Launch. Google Glass API could be foggy. Plus: Disrupt NY Hackathon, the new open world of banking, and 20 new APIs.

Digital Public Library of America: Making History—Literally

Why start a Digital Public Library when you can already get so much about books—and everything else—from local libraries, Google Books, Amazon.com, Wikipedia and general searches? These resources have already changed our world. The Digital Public Library of America is set to change it again. Lots of resources from books to historical records to works of art and culture are available right now for free right now in America's public libraries. But you can't get to them—because they aren't on a shared platform. Even when you can get to them, the platforms available to find material and understand their meaning are rudimentary. The DPLA is building a portal to make innovative searches possible. An example is the Harvard StackLife project, that shows, among other things, how often books have been used. The DPLA is also a platform—providing an API so developers can create different ways to interact with the material. As well as providing a portal and platform, the group's third goal has missionary zeal, advocating for a strong public option:

"For most of American history, the ability to access materials for free through public libraries has been a central part of our culture, producing generations of avid readers and a knowledgeable, engaged citizenry. The DPLA will work, along with like-minded organizations and individuals, to ensure that this critical, open intellectual landscape remains vibrant and broad in the face of increasingly restrictive digital options. The DPLA will seek to multiply openly accessible materials to strengthen the public option that libraries represent in their communities."

Megan Geuss of Ars Technica reviews the ramifications—and the hurdles—of where DPLA is taking us. Some of the implications could be profoundly personal, while other aspects could change history:

"State and regional library access would make America’s history available in a way it’s never been before. Imagine being able to search local newspapers for your great grandparents’ names, or scan through early photos of developing cities throughout the Gold Rush. And the DPLA's open access—allowing bulk downloading and encouraging people to make use of their API—will make analyzing all that information more efficient."

Part of the story of history is that the past has often been difficult to get at, difficult to reach those details that overturn our understanding with new facts. Partly because history can be hard to reach, it can be transformed into "propaganda of the victors." With its platforms, portals, and the cooperation of small and large libraries across the country, the DPLA could disrupt that longstanding truism.

Google Glass API: Worth Getting All Steamed Up Over?

Google just released an API for Glass, and Frederic Lardonois at Techcrunch thinks the prescription is a bit off. It's "old-school REST-ful," he says, meaning interacting with Google Glass can only be done through the cloud. Further,

"The way the API works, however, also means there are things you can’t quite do with Glass yet that are possible on any modern smartphone. You can’t write a real augmented-reality app, for example. It also doesn’t look as if you could easily stream audio or video from the device to your own services (though you can obviously use Hangouts on Glass).

Because the platform is essentially web-based, you are also limited to HTML and CSS when it comes to styling your apps, and Google would prefer it if you didn’t write any custom CSS and just stuck with its own templates."

Lardinois predicts developers will remain "underwhelmed." But perhaps the most interesting point he makes is an aside: "...traditional ads just don’t make sense on this platform." On the one hand, that's an obvious point as soon as he's made it—users of Glass are probably too distracted for ads to make sense. But the implications could be profound. Once there was concern whether mobile would be a good ad platform, something that seems resolved. But as devices get even smaller and more specialized than what constitutes "mobile" today, advertising could well get squeezed out. How about on the iWatch? Could wearable devices put advertising out of fashion?  That could challenge the business designs of a host of companies, from Google to Yahoo to anyone who depends on ad revenue.

API News You Shouldn't Miss

20 New APIs

Today we had 20 new APIs added to our API directory including a south african gis service, an api pipelining service, a consolidated local coupons and deals service, an ebook creation service, an application backend service, a cloud infrastructure management service and a bulk sms service. Below are more details on each of these new APIs.

1Map1Map API: 1Map aims to provide basic GIS services to users throughout South Africa. At this stage, users can employ an address search in which multiple layers, including street addresses and stand numbers, can be displayed. Users may also download diagrams obtained from the Surveyor General's office. All 1Map services are currently provided for free and can be accessed programmatically via REST API.

bipiobipio API: Bipio gives its users the means to create cheap, dynamic endpoints (either public or private) for pipelining APIs. It does so using "Bips", which are fast, lightweight endpoint definitions for users' personal domains that receive and process content feeds. With Bipio, users can rapidly prototype application workflows, automate common tasks, or simply receive and distribute messages how and where they want them. The Bipio API operates via REST calls issued in JSON and JSONP.

City Rewards NetworkCity Rewards Network API: The City Rewards Network combines deals and coupons from Groupon, Coupons.com, Yelp, and Living Social on their website. In addition, the company has over 1000 exclusive merchants running over 3000 daily deals. By using the City Rewards Network API, users gain programmatic access to all local deals as well as exclusive e-commerce deals, all consolidated in one service.

Ebook GlueEbook Glue API: Ebook Glue is a service for creating ePub and Mobipocket ebooks from HTML- and CSS-formatted text in order to make lengthy content easier to read on an iPad, Kindle, Nook, iPhone, or Android device. Ebook Glue also allows users to customize their ebooks with book covers, device-specific optimizations, custom stylesheets, content parsing, and automatic chapter detection.

Ebook Glue offers a simple REST API for performing conversion operations. GET requests allow users to convert web pages, while POST requests allow users to convert a Mobipocket, ePub, or HTML file.

EnginioEnginio API: Enginio is a backend-as-a-service solution that simplifies backend development for connected and data-driven applications. Enginio manages application data as objects which are stored with additional information, including a unique ID, assorted properties, and an object type. Objects are also grouped in collections and can be linked together via object references. Developers can use the Enginio API to create, read, update, and delete objects.

enstratiusenstratius API: Enstratius provides a suite of tools to help enterprises manage their cloud infrastructure. It supports the provisioning, management, and automation of applications in all leading public and private clouds. Enstratius is available as either software-as-a-service or on-premises software. Enstratius' RESTful API enables customers to make authenticated calls against Enstratius from existing applications or third-party tools.

Free SMS GatwayFree SMS Gatway API: Free SMS Gateway lets users send text messages to groups of people through either a web interface or a RESTful API. Users can import their contacts via text list, CSV file, or by hand. They can also view past messages, sent dates, billing statements, and more. Free SMS Gateway starts users out with a free account which they may choose to upgrade or cancel at any time.

GyftGyft API: Gyft is a digital gift card platform that enables users to manage mobile gift cards and use mobile gift cards at retailers and businesses, as well as send other people gift cards with their mobile phones.

The Gyft API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality of Gyft with other applications and to create new applications. Public documentation is not available; interested developers should sign up here for API access: http://www.gyft.com/partners/.

InterNetworXInterNetworX API: InterNetworX is a domain registrar that provides real-time domain registrations, registrar transfers, and updates. Users have complete control over their domains and can register or update domain names in real-time using InterNetworX's Domain Robot. All functions of the InterNetworX frontend are accessible via XML-RPC API. Programming examples for the API are provided in PHP, Java, Ruby, and Python.

LeadDynoLeadDyno API: LeadDyno provides online marketing services that helps users manage their affiliates and payouts and learn which online marketing channels are providing them with the best ROI. LeadDyno offers a complete REST API for integrating with websites or applications. It can be used to retrieve affiliate, lead, and campaign information or to update certain pieces of affiliate and lead information in LeadDyno.

Numenta GrokNumenta Grok API: Grok is enterprise-level software that provides deep analytical services, especially for machine-generated data. It finds complex patterns in data streams and generates real-time predictions to help organizations make decisions and take action. Grok's technology is based on principles of human intelligence, providing it with adaptive learning capabilities and a high level of automation.

Grok is available as a cloud service or as software. It has a RESTful API that provides programmatic access to its data for integration purposes. Pre-made libraries are available in Java, C#, Python, and JavaScript.

Opscode Chef ServerOpscode Chef Server API: Chef Server is an open-source system integration framework built specifically for automating the cloud. It is used for configuration management, cloud management, and continuous delivery. Chef enables users to model infrastructure as code so that they can easily and consistently configure and deploy infrastructure across any platform. Over 800 reusable cookbooks are provided for automating infrastructure.

The Chef Server API is used to provide access to objects on the Chef Server, including nodes, environments, roles, and cookbooks. It is also used to manage an API client list and the associated RSA public key-pairs.

PrintzelPrintzel API: Printzel is an iPad application for creating photo books that are professionally printed and bound in either hardcover or softcover form. An online reviewer allows users to view and share their books with friends and family and gives them the chance to order their own copy.

The Printzel API enables developers to offer printed books from within their applications, allowing end users to make books using the applications' content. Printzel handles the printing, shipping, billing, and customer support associated with the photo books.

ScribbleliveScribblelive API: Scribblelive provides a flexible and feature-rich media management platform that powers live blogging, real-time journalism, and on-the-fly storytelling. Using Scribblelive, users can create live blog posts and articles that include multiple types of media content in one post. Users can also feature content from Twitter and Facebook and import content from services such as YouTube and Instagram. The Scribblelive backend lets users create, moderate, curate, publish, and syndicate content into a live blog from multiple sources (e.g., text, video, audio, photos, SMS, voicemail) and multiple contributors.

SerendioSerendio API: Serendio helps companies transform multi-structured data into insight and decisions through the use of big data, text analytics, machine learning, and predictive science. Serendio's APIs allow developers to tap into unstructured content to tag and extract entities, find relationships between entities, discover sentiments, identify topics, and classify topics. These APIs are implemented using a RESTful interface with calls formatted for either XML or JSON responses.

SiteScoutSiteScout API: SiteScout is self-serve advertising software for small brands, performance marketers, and digital agencies. It provides a straightforward, web-based platform that allows users to create and manage banner, video, and mobile ad campaigns in real time.

The SiteScout API uses REST calls to allow clients' applications to interact directly with SiteScout systems. The API implements a wide range of features, which are classified as Reporting, Audience Management, or Campaign Management (coming soon).

SolidFireSolidFire API: SolidFire is cloud storage architecture designed to deliver a guaranteed quality of service that allows service providers to host performance-sensitive applications safely in their cloud. It integrates new primary storage seamlessly into current cloud management and orchestration layers, creating efficiencies that improve with scale. SolidFire's REST-based API enables cloud providers to automate every aspect of storage management, including deployment, troubleshooting, security, reporting, billing, and performance management.

Travel Booking NetworkTravel Booking Network API: Travel Booking Network is an accommodation and ticketing platform for bed and breakfasts, hotels, hostels, university residences, guest houses, and other holiday rentals. They process bookings through their own websites, but also lend their technology out to other accommodation providers and travel websites. Travel Booking Network can set up either an API or a white label service for a client's website. The Travel Booking Network API uses RESTful calls issued in XML format.

UnbounceUnbounce API: Unbounce is a self-serve hosted service that provides marketers doing paid search, banner ads, email or social media marketing, a way to create, publish & test promotion specific landing pages without the need for IT or developers.The Unbounce API allows users to query for accounts, sub-accounts, domains, pages, page groups, and leads. The service uses REST calls, and returns JSON. An account is required with service and an API key and SSL are used for user authentication.

VocalwareVocalware API: Vocalware lets developers speech-enable any web or mobile application by using cloud-based text-to-speech service to generate and play audio in real-time. To use Vocalware, applications must have access to an internet connection fast enough to stream 48kbps audio. Vocalware provides an API that allows users to generate audio and control audio playback programmatically. The API is available using JavaScript/HTML5, ActionScript (Flash), or HTTP-REST so that it can be incorporated into any application.

Greg Bates A writer for Programmableweb since 2012, Greg is a freelance writer and a maniacal editor of dissertations and term papers. - Follow me on Google+

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