The Latest News On The API Economy
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Last week I had the pleasure of attending the O’Reilly Strata Conference in New York City, and sat in on a very important keynote from Drew Conway and Jake Porway about their project, Data Without Borders. Data Without Borders is looking to match non-profits in need of data analysis with freelance and pro bono data scientists who can work to help them with data collection, analysis, visualization, or provide decision support.
Publisher Pearson recently launched its new API program with three of its top titles. The new platform provides a common set of tools that developers have grown accustomed to: documentation, sample code, app showcase, blog, forum and FAQs, for example. Pearson has a lot of content to pick from with its core offerings, as well as its numerous partners, and they decided to start by launching three very different content APIs: FT Press API, Longman Dictionary API and Eyewitness Guide to London API.
If there is a segment that is ripe for integration it is travel. APIs in the travel segment have been around for a very long time. In fact, some of the earliest APIs are based on Electronic Data Interchange, which dates back to the 1960s. Granted many of these connections are highly complex enterprise only integrations, it is a history that should bode well for modern day integrations, should it not? Despite a long history of interconnectedness, much of the travel space still remains behind closed doors. The major global distribution systems, represented by Sabre, Travelport, and Amadeus all offer powerful APIs of their own, but their commercial requirements tend to be out of the league of most application developers. In spite of the limitations the travel industry has effectively self imposed, there still exists many opportunities to monetize sites using travel APIs. There are several types of APIs available in the travel space. Most are transactional and some are content driven. Let's take a look a broad categorization of available travel APIs.
In the northern hemisphere, we're coming into summer--prime traveling season. So, let's look at some of the best new mashups that help you travel the way you want to. For many, one of the things we always do on a trip is try to find cheap hotels near a specific place, be it a friend's house or an event venue. Or, maybe you're looking for something city-specific. And, for those stuck in an office, you can always live vicariously through your friends and their travel photos.
Waiters like to work in pricey restaurants serving wealthy patrons because they are able to pay for high class service. That's also why you see so many professionals in the banking industry: it pays to work for people with money. Xignite took note of this and decided to become the Maitre'd of information to the financial industry. With more than 3.5 Billion calls per month to its Xignite APIs, it is doing a fine job of it, as well.
Kasabi has just moved into public beta. The private beta is over, and Kasabi is openly ready and willing to become your data marketplace. This is similar to what the primates over at InfoChimps are doing: building a community around data sets and APIs. The Kasabi API collection feels like a first attempt at standardizing the task of designing an API for accessing a dataset.
Do you remember what it was like to figure out what was going on in your city fifteen years ago? You probably called your friends. Less than 20% of U.S. households were online. People learned about local news and events from newspapers, TV and their friends. I remember a lot of nights that we were frustrated “nothing cool was going on.” Information was scarce, and people still paid for it.
Travel reservation site Expedia starting working on its Expedia API back in 2009, according to the changelog. It has three APIs, covering hotels, flights and cars. Don't be shy. Expedia has been expecting you. The Expedia developer site has all the warmth and care of a fine bed and breakfast. They clearly want to invite you in, make you comfortable, and get your development project of the ground. Though they do have a couple hoops to jump through, as well.
Eva, the Expert Virtual agent from Evature, is a natural language processing search utility that is open and available for incorporation in any travel website. It offers a natural language processing engine through its Evature Travel Search API, which is tuned to identify common travel parameters such as number of travelers, place names and locations, and fuzzy date ranges. Travel websites can then use these parsed information bits to search their system for matching flights, hotels, or travel packages.
Kumutu will take your vacation planning up a notch with its collection of high adventure experiences. By partnering with established adventure operators around the globe it has created an extensive network of guides to take you on your next daring outing whether it is scuba diving in Bali or Safariing in Uganda. It's the nature of these experiences that sets the Kumutu API apart from the other 78 travel APIs already listed in the Programmable web directory.
The FCC is leading by example with its beta release of the FCC.gov website on Monday. In this latest version of the site, the FCC has worked hard to follow Web 2.0 principles, most notably building the entire website on top of RESTful APIs. “Everything should be an API”, FCC managing director Steve Van Roekel said during the press briefing, according to O'Reilly's report.
Flight price tracker Yapta's value proposition sounds a bit like Robin Hood of the travel industry. It will not only track travel prices for you, but to help you get a refund should the price of your reservation fall after you’ve booked it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Yapta can also be used to retrieve kittens from high branches, but that part of the Yapta API isn’t documented yet.
The number of “as a Service” types continues to grow and we are even seeing services that help you build your own service. PublishMyData falls into this category as it offers Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) which enables you to offer your Data as a Service (DaaS) and it supports linked data.
One of the key rules of having any service online is the ability to measure everything. Metrics like number of users, requests, where the requests originate, most frequently requested data and many more play an important role in not only fine tuning your services but also give a good measure of what it is going to cost you to run your online business as you scale up. SMSMyBus, a mobile telephone application that lets you find real time bus arrivals for the Madison Metro (WI) has just completed a year of existence and has published a report exactly of that.
We've covered Factual a number of times, most recently asking if it will become the go-to location database. Now the company has expanded its offering with improved datasets, new datasets and a new iPhone SDK. Its local data now covers 27 countries and contains more than 30 million individual business listings.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has announced the opening of public voting for the NYC BigApps 2.0 Competition. The big apple has wasted no time in following last year's successful competition with 350 datasets from over 40 agencies. From the looks of the apps, the NYC tech community is already fired up about the competition.
Riders on New York City subways are subject to all sorts of sights. For several months, that has included prominent advertisements for the MTA API, the developer program of New York City's transit company. The ad (pictured below) includes the headline, "Our apps are whiz kid certified."
Facebook's Big Year: A Whole New Approach to its API, New Types of User Data, and Major Deprecations
The Facebook API saw huge changes in 2010 that moved the service away from being a closed network and towards being a more open community. The leading social network site must be doing something right on that front. Facebook was the third most popular service for use in new mashups last year, nearly doubling its total number in our directory.
Online mapping and directions innovator MapQuest has been building new web services on top of data from the publicly-editable OpenStreetMap project since the company announced a new open platform initiative in August. Now MapQuest has a new addition to its family of open data–based services, bike routes:
Cycling in the UK is not only a popular past time but and also a real commuting choice. The UK has numerous defined cycle routes and many towns and cities have designated cycling lanes and more recently London introduced a cycling scheme fondly referred to as Boris' Bikes after the current Mayor of London. Since more and more people are using a bicycle as a preferred method of transport, and with cyclists having a different selection of routes, on top of the ordinary street network, than alternative transportation methods, it makes sense for there to be a need for a bicycle journey planning web application and API.