Today in APIs: Facebook, Pinterest and 12 New APIs

You may remember about how Facebook took credit for Pinterest's growth. Now the social network has a mini-case study on the hot app. Also: are open APIs the new open source, do you know what API is backwards and 12 new APIs.

Facebook's Pinterest Spotlight

Facebook is looking to show Pinterest as an example for developers. Here's what the social network says the pin-happy company did well:

Pinterest focused on the most frequent and social things people do on their site - pin and follow - and built Open Graph stories that people could identify with. Pinterest also prompts people to add the app to their timelines through a clear call out that is integrated into the design of the site.

Pinterest has a special page devoted to helping users opt into the timeline feature.

How Open is Open?

A response to the idea that open APIs are the new open source, IT World says APIs fall short of open source:

On a day-to-day level, most developers aren't interested in digging into the entirety of the source code, however it's licensed. They just need to plug their code into the existing project, and the APIs are the best way to do that. Couple this with the trend that proprietary software, such as the web services offered by Facebook, Google, and Amazon, are also featuring open APIs, which third-party developers are loving, and you get a recipe for success with open APIs.

But that recipe is like a chocolate cake: it looks great, tastes great, but you can't live off of it. A chocolate-cake-only diet would soon lead to nutritional problems. That, I would stipulate, is the problem with open APIs: they are tasty and fun to plug code into and hopefully generate more interest/revenue for your own software--but they fall well short of the true benefits of open source code.

Lock-in will always be an issue open source has with public APIs. However, as the author mentions, more an more open source is depending upon APIs for the extensibility, with developers installing unaltered versions of the open source software.

API News You Shouldn't Miss

12 New APIs

Today we had 12 new APIs added to our API directory including a mobile marketing and qr code service, light-weight social messaging service, mobile advertising network, loans and grants search service and Chinese internet portal. Below is more details on each of these new APIs.

EBI ClustalW2EBI ClustalW2 API: ClustalW2 is a program for the global multiple alignment of biological sequences. It can align anywhere from 3 to 500 DNA or protein sequences. One notable feature of this alignment program is that it considers sequence redundancy. The European Bioinformatics Institute makes this service available as an API via SOAP or REST protocols.

EBI LalignEBI Lalign API: Lalign is a program for the local pairwise alignment of DNA and protein sequences. It finds internal duplications by calculating non-intersecting local alignments in the two sequences input by the user for analysis. The European Bioinformatics institute makes these functions available as an API via SOAP or REST protocols.

EsponceEsponce API: Esponce is a mobile marketing platform that allows users to create QR codes, track and analyze their use, and integrate codes with mobile web apps. Through their mobile marketing platform, Esponce also provides features for mobile content and delivery, including a white label solution that is designed to give users an optimized platform for building and deploying their web apps without having to configure them for multiple mobile OS's.

Esponce's RESTful API uses XML or JSON data formats to generate or decode QR codes without an API key. With an API key, users can take advantage of more robust features such as managing campaigns, generating lists of campaigns and trackable QR codes, managing QR codes, and gathering usage statistics about individual QR codes.

IngestureIngesture API: The concept behind Ingesture is to provide users with a web service that allows sharing of light-weight social messages that generate socially semantic URL's as shared gestures, which can also contain associated metadata or annotations.

The API is intended for use by third party social networks and blogs. The root of each Ingesture domain displays activity logs for a particual gesture, and also connects to other aggregated web content related to that gesture, such as Youtube videos or Flickr images. Furthermore, metadata including geolocation, contextual url's, media attachments, QR codes, and tags can be included with each Ingesture object.

InMobiInMobi API: InMobi is the world's largest independent mobile advertising network. Publishers use the network to monetize their inventory while advertisers use it to reach their audience. The InMobi API allows developers to insert their ads in J2ME, PSP, or any other platform. With the API users can manage multiple platforms. The API can also be used to integrate mobile websites, iOS & Android apps and other mobile applications. It uses HTTP calls and responses are formatted in XML.

inneractiveinneractive API: Inneractive is a mobile ad mediation provider with over 100 ad networks and local agencies available at the click of a button. Inneractive helps developers monetize their apps by giving them tools that let them serve targeted ads to their users. The company offers SDKs for Android, J2ME, Symbian & Qt. For other platforms, developers can use an HTTP based API to gain access to multiple ad networks. Documentation for the API is not publicly available.

SBA Business Licenses and PermitsSBA Business Licenses and Permits API: The Small Business Administration (SBA) strives to act as an engine of opportunity and economic growth in America by providing a variety of programs and support services for both current and prospective small business owners.

The Business License and Permit search tool provides developers with a RESTful interface to access a list of federal, state, and local permits, licenses, and registration forms that are needed to legally operate a small business. The search tool will return specific local licenses and permits when available, and will otherwise provide users with the URL's to the websites of official local governmental agencies. Users can search by any combination of category, state, business type, city, or ZIP code to receive data in XML or JSON formats.

SBA City and County DataSBA City and County Data API: The Small Business Administration (SBA) strives to act as an engine of opportunity and economic growth in America by providing a variety of programs and support services for both current and prospective small business owners.

The U.S. City and County Data API provides developers with programmatic access to a geographic names data set for official city and county government websites, as well as data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). This data is composed of a variety of data types relating to geographical features such as the county they are found in, their official classification type, descriptions, links to associated governmental URLs, and latitude/longitude coordinates. This is a completely open and free RESTful API that returns data as either XML or JSON.

SBA Loans and Grants SearchSBA Loans and Grants Search API: The Small Business Administration (SBA) strives to act as an engine of opportunity and economic growth in America by providing a variety of programs and support services for both current and prospective small business owners.

The Loans and Grants Search API allows developers to connect to's categorized collection of links to federal, state, and local financial assistance programs that aid small businesses in starting or expanding their operations. The search API lets users find loans and grants by a variety of characteristics such as state, industry, or specialty. This RESTful API is free to use, and returns data as either XML or JSON.

SBA Recommended SitesSBA Recommended Sites API: The Small Business Administration (SBA) strives to act as an engine of opportunity and economic growth in America by providing a variety of programs and support services for both current and prospective small business owners.

The Recommended Sites API provides programmatic access to's data set of links to federal, state, and local websites that have been organically recommended to improve the relevance of long tail queries about governmental organizations. The data set is curated by the team to help people find the information they are looking for through the use of particular keywords. Queries can be made by keyword, category, master term (a word or phrase assigned to a group of synonyms), or domain. This RESTful API returns data as XML or JSON, and is free to use.

TencentTencent API: Tencent is China's largest and most used Internet service portal. Tencent provides Internet, mobile and telecom services and online advertising. Tencent’s leading Internet platforms include QQ (QQ Instant Messenger),, QQ Games, Qzone,, SoSo, PaiPai and Tenpay. Tencent's API gives developers access to the data and functionality of it's microblogging service. Methods provided give access to the timeline, trends, related topics, tags and more. The API uses RESTful calls and responses are formatted in XML and JSON. The site and documentation are in Chinese.

WebTrends Data CollectionWebTrends Data Collection API: WebTrends is an organization providing digital marketing solutions for companies looking to expand their Web presence in the social and mobile arenas, as well as on the Web. Their platform focuses on leveraging analytics and data collection to empower their clients to make informed decisions about their digital marketing endeavors.

The WebTrends Data Collection API is designed to connect with user applications, functioning as a collection tool for analytics data and metrics. With this API, developers can programmatically create automated data collection tools that will post relevant data to the user's account in WebTrend's data collection server. This service can also be configured to identify end-users for a more finely grained data set that reflects individual user behavior.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.



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