Friday, 27 May 2011

Updates to the Jorum API and the API in action

An API or Application-Programming Interface is a set of programming instructions and standards for accessing a Web-based software application or Web tool. A software company releases its API to the public so that other software developers can design products that are powered by its service.

An API is a software-to-software interface, not a user interface. With APIs, applications talk to each other without any user knowledge or intervention. When you buy movie tickets online and enter your credit card information, the movie ticket Web site uses an API to send your credit card information to a remote application that verifies whether your information is correct. Once payment is confirmed, the remote application sends a response back to the movie ticket Web site saying it's OK to issue the tickets.

Some examples of APIs in action and user benefits:

Amazon releases its API to web developers so that they can directly and more easily access Amazon’s product information. Shoppers don’t have to go into Amazon to see what they can purchase there; developers can either embed the code for that widget or they can make sue of the API to get data from Amazon which they can then present to users in another website

The Jorum widget is another example a tool which makes use of an API. The widget, like the example from Amazon above, is a piece of embeddable code, which any users can put on their websites or in their VLEs, like Blackboard: The widget then links right to the available resources stored in Jorum, or even more specifically, to the resources of that particular developer, academic or practitioner.

In terms of the technical changes, Version 0.3 of the API allows developers to access the following data feeds:

  • A Collections list (as XML, JSON, and JSONP)
  • Resources (as XML, XML with DC metadata, JSON, JSONP, and RSS
  • By submitter (all resources with no pagination)
  • By author (with pagination)
  • By keyword (with pagination)
  • By title (with pagination)
  • By simple search (no pagination but the user can specify a maximum number of resources returned)
  • There is an option of no pagination for any given feed
  • The results default is set at 50
  • The results limit is 250

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