The Forecast API: Bringing a New Day to Weather Data

Forecast, the team that created the acclaimed iOS weather app Dark Sky, has created an API that brings its gorgeous weather data and display into any Platform. As Forecast put it, they wanted to transcend their work with Dark Sky:

"...we decided to do something grander: create our own full-featured weather service from scratch, complete with 7-day forecasts that cover the whole world, beautiful weather visualizations, and a time machine for exploring the weather in the past and far future. You can access it from all of your devices, whether it be your laptop, iPhone, Android phone, or tablet.

On top of all that, we’re providing this data to other developers, in the hopes that a truly independent weather community can thrive in the era of increasing corporate consolidation."

Forecast has Harrison Weber at The Next Web not sweating the details but drooling over them:

"During the short time we’ve spent with Forecast since its release earlier today, it’s safe to say that we’ve been blown away. Above all else, Forecast is both high functioning and gorgeous. The design completely gets out of the way, allowing key features to take over. These features include animated maps and icons, minute-by-minute forecasts, natural language summaries and an impressively smooth Web app implementation."

But while it's clear Forecast has elevated weather reporting to an art form, it would be a mistake to let that beauty obscure how carefully thought through it is, walking that precarious line between a "weather glut" that deluges you with too much information, on the one hand, and "Weather Fluff", that is not enough information to be useful, on the other. Forecast lays out its views and solution powerfully,

"Where do we draw the line? You may never care about the wind direction  —  until the one time you go sailing. You may never look at an hour-by-hour breakdown of the upcoming day  —  until a hurricane is about to hit.

With Forecast, we’ve tried to give you the best of both worlds by keeping the interface as simple as possible, but also providing links to additional detailed information, to let you delve deeper whenever the need or mood arises."

Pulling that off is tricky, yet Forecast has unlocked the secret with interface and animation. With up to the minute forecasts at your precise location, and hourly forecasts around the globe all rolled in with historical data, Forecast has something for everyone from the gardner thinking through microclimates to the climate activist looking for patterns of global climate disruption.

The API uses a simple JSON interface to return current conditions, minute-by-minute forecasts, hour-by-hour and day-by-day forecasts. There are two main API calls, one that returns the current forecast for the following week and a second that lets you query into the past (60 years for many places) and the future (up to 10 years).

Finally, someone has made good on President Reagan's famous claim, the future is so bright, you have to wear sun glasses.

Be sure to read the next API article: Easily Create eBooks from Web and Blog Content with Ebook Glue