Q&A With USA Today on Newspaper's API Launch

A month after we covered USA Today's API plans, the newspaper has opened its Developer Network to the public, giving access to two datasets for now. But there's much more on the way, as we learned in our discussion with Steve Kurtz, VP of Digital Development.

The current API supports access to Best Selling Books and Sports Salaries. The API is REST based and developers will need to sign up to get access to an API Key. At this point in time, there are two things that developers need to keep in mind. One is that you cannot use the API for any commercial purpose and calls to restricted to 1000 per day. For more details on the terms, developer blog and forums, visit our USA Today API profile.

It looks like a busy time ahead for the Network with more API data sets coming soon, an awareness campaign and a soon to come, developer contest. Here is the full Q&A with Kurtz:

Can you tell us more about USA Today Developer Network and its API?

Our developer network serves as a home for our content APIs and as a community for developers that want to discover, engage with and communicate about our content.  We are currently offering access to our APIs for Best-Selling Books and Sports Salaries, with plans for more to come. These APIs are available to the public, but bounded in access – we have Rate Limiting in place, as well as data restrictions. For example, for our Sports Salaries API, users will only be able to access the last 2 years of data. However, we do have content available that goes much further back than that. Developers that wish to access more of our content should contact us directly.

What challenges did you face during the Beta period of the API? What were the positive outcomes of the Beta period?

As with any API, the content is at the core, and we spent significant time and effort organizing, tagging and aggregating our content in preparation for layering on the API.   The beta period helped us identify content anomalies and gave us the opportunity to refine our taxonomy and access methods.

What plans do you have for the API? Any new data sets that are likely to be exposed in the future?

We currently have about a dozen APIs that we are using internally, with more under development. Some of these APIs see public release in the future, while others will never be opened up because of licensing restrictions.  You will have to wait and see, but we are planning an aggressive rollout schedule.

What kind of applications do you expect from developers?

We are not anticipating any specific applications, and that’s largely what’s exciting about opening up an API to the public. We are eager to see unanticipated uses of our content.

Any other points you would like to share with readers (Contests, Meetups, Tours)?

Today, we are hosting our first annual Developer Mashup Challenge, an event intended to raise awareness for our Developer Portal throughout USA TODAY and Gannett.   We will take this external as our community grows and we release more APIs, so next year look for our first event for the general public.

Be sure to read the next News Services article: Early Mashup Pioneer Opens Hyperlocal API