XOData Lets Developers Explore OData APIs Visually

Open data API exploration and visualization tool XOData aims to make it easier for developers to understand the resources, functions, and parameters available for extraction from datasets created in the OData open data format.

Ram Manohar Tiwari, founder of PragmatiQa and creator of the XOData tool, says the tool is suited for both developers and business users looking to explore existing APIs as well as to easily prototype and test APIs created in the OData format.

OData as an Open Data Standard

OData is an international open data protocol standard aimed at encouraging best practice among open data publishers when building RESTful APIs. OData is the protocol recommended by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Systems (OASIS).

Major libraries and publishers of open datasets often ensure that the source data is available in the OData format.

Since May of last year, for example, OpenDataSoft makes all open data hosted on their open data Platform available as a read-only OData endpoint.

Additionally, the international Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development  (OECD), the U.S. Court system, and Socrata all make open data available via OData endpoints.

XOData Core Functionalities

XOData provides a number of options to explore OData datasets, explains Tiwari.

Users can type in a metadata Endpoint directly into XOData or they can test the tool; a variety of sample OData sets are provided. (In a nod to Microsoft’s legacy as initial creator of OData, sample datasets all use the classic “Northwinds database” name that some developers will remember from Microsoft Access.)

Visually, XOData can display the relationships between the data in an OData API.

Full entity details are available via XOData’s API details functionality.

These functions help developers see what entities, type, and attributes are included in an open dataset and reveal the parameters that can be used for each. This can be useful for open datasets where Documentation is minimal, or where Odata API endpoints have been exposed on sites like OpenDataSoft for datasets not originally documented in OData format.

XOData: Visualizing Data from OData Datasets

In addition to allowing developers to explore what is available in an OData API, XOData can also retrieve, analyze, and visualize the data available via the API.

Data can be retrieved through XOData’s Data Explorer query Function and shown in an Excel spreadsheet table format. From there, data can be filtered to show only particular ranges or subsets, and can then be displayed visually as graphs and maps. Charts can then be exported as images.

XOData is available for free online access for developers and is one of the recommended tools of the OData oversight organization. A chrome web app is also available for a fee. 

Be sure to read the next Open Data article: OpenCorporates Heralds Open Data as a Public Good