The days of data silos are done, or at least they should be. Data is most valuable when it’s connected and available to be combined in ways unforeseen by its original collectors. In recent years, we’ve seen a huge number of new APIs created to provide data and services that web developers can integrate into their own sites, often for free.
In this article we’re going to take a look at seven Application Programming Interfaces that every web developer should be aware of.
We’re sure you know about this one, so we’re putting it in first as a taster. If you remember the bad old days where websites were limited to a small range of “web safe” fonts, the current proliferation of beautiful, elegant, typographically awesome sites must be very welcome.
Google Fonts provides free access to hundreds of fonts that can be included on any website. The API is simple to use, and Google provides an interface which will let users browse the fonts before spitting out the necessary code for them to copy and paste.
The web is full of unstructured data that’s difficult to wrangle into a form that’s usable by web sites and apps. The Yahoo! Content Analysis API provides a free service for detecting entities, categories, and relationships within data and ranking them by relevance.
Although not free, the Google Translate API is a great service for dynamically translating between thousands of different pairs of languages, as well as identifying the language of submitted text.
We’ve given Google enough love, so for geographic data and mapping we’re going to point you in the direction of the OpenStreetMap API instead of Google Maps. OpenStreetMap has several APIs, including one for fetching and saving raw geodata, but web developers are more likely to find the OpenLayers API useful. It provides facilities for embedding maps with web pages.
Panoramio is a service that geolocates photos, allowing users to display images in their geographical context.
The Decibel Open API is an interesting new approach to content management system design that allows developers to expand on the Decibel CMS platform by creating apps and code that access the Decibel framework. It’s a sort of hybrid cloud approach to content management design as an alternative to the usual SaaS offerings with their inherent limitations.
The Bitly API provides programmatic access to many of the features of the company’s URL shortening and analytics service.
Which APIs are you using in your web development? We’d love to hear what you guys are using to create your sites and apps, so feel free to share in the comments below.