API FYI - Design & Development Digest

Internet professionals (and the Web developers they employ) are increasingly leveraging the opportunities presented in the many available Web service APIs.

Data, resources, services and functionality are being ported here, there and everywhere, resulting in more thoughtful and engaging products (apps, mashups, widgets, etc.) that carry the potential to increase profits and heighten awareness for the company while simultaneously enriching the user experience.

APIs are nothing more than a set of rules and instructions (specifications) that software programs must follow in order to make use of the available resources. For example, if Website Magazine wanted to publish an "events" section of the website, the information provided through APIs from companies such as Zvents or Eventification (see below) could be replicated and presented to our site visitors. Companies publish APIs to help others (and themselves) create additional channels of distribution between communities and applications.

In this edition of the Design and Development Digest, let's take a look at some of the most interesting new APIs released so far in 2011. While reading, ask yourself how you might be able to utilize the API to improve your own presence on the Web.

Rvolve is a hyper-local ad platform that lets advertisers target their advertisements to a local audience. Publishers of local content, meanwhile, earn from locally relevant deals and services. The service offers pay-for-performance, pay-per-click and pay-per-week/month options to advertisers directly. The XML feed for Rvolve consists of a REST request, which returns an XML set of advertisements. There is also an option to overlay the ads on a Google map using a JSON feed. The service is currently in beta.

Quora is an individual-focused question and answer site with an emphasis on tagging. You can follow users, questions and topics. The Quora API is an alpha release made specifically to help developers create browser extensions so their website visitors can interact with the Quora community.

LiveChat is a live chat software that enables sales representatives to contact customers currently on the website. Using the API, return a list of operators who have interacted with customers, get a list of chat transcripts and more. It uses RESTful protocol and responses are formatted in JSON.

The ProperSpell API is a RESTful API that provides 'Did you mean' style spell-check suggestions, currently only for the English language. The service can be integrated into developers' applications. The API returns data in XML, JSON, JSONP, PSER and HTML formats.

Data8 is the UK's premier data solutions provider with a range of data cleansing, postcode lookup and data validation services to ultimately improve business communication with customers. The email validation API lets users avoid typing errors by checking email addresses in real time as they are entered. Identify and correct errors in both the username and domain parts of the address. The API uses SOAP protocol and responses are formatted in XML.

Eventification is a website where users can submit, browse, and subscribe/RSVP to events published by other users. The Eventification API is still in production but developers can still use the only currently available method for searching events published to Eventification and receive the results in JSON, XML, RSS or iCal formats.

BlinkSend is a Web-based document solution. It provides stats and analytics to show who is reading particular documents, the amount of time they spent reading and their feedback on each one. The BlinkSend API allows developers to access the full functionality of the BlinkSend service. The API allows users to show reports and traffic, create accounts and members from your site, view and create tags, add and retrieve contacts, and add new members and administrators. Documentation is available after signup.

ENom makes it possible for resellers to buy and sell Internet domains and services. With over 300 commands, eNom's API allows developers to integrate all eNom products and services into a business site or application. Online services include the ability to sell 70-plus domain extensions, email services, Linux and Windows hosting, SSL certificates, website creators, email marketing, content creation and more. Full documentation is available after registration.

CodeMunch is a recruitment platform that makes good use of emerging social networking technologies. It gives developers complete access to CodeMunch data. Using the CodeMunch API, developers can post jobs, get job listings, get career statuses and follow careers.

Txt Mobster provides a two-way API that enables users to send or receive SMS messages to a single contact or multiple contact groups or keyword contact lists. The API allows developers to integrate Txt Mobster into their applications. A wide variety of programming such as managing keyword lists, activating new keywords, and billing management is available. The API is a common straight-forward URL HTTP post. API documentation is available once users register.

Exfm is an extension for Chrome that lets users discover new music while browsing, organize that music into a library and share it with friends. The ExtensionFM API allows sites to add songs directly to a user's library as well as listen for and dispatch events to the extension. This API is useful for sites that would like to add music to a user's library but are not currently configured for automatic detection. The API uses JavaScript protocol and responses are formatted in JSON.

The Facebook Credits API enables an individual to use credits as a method for purchasing digital and virtual goods within an application. A user places an order by clicking a "Pay with Facebook" button. The order gets submitted to Facebook through JavaScript based on the contents of the 'order_info' parameter passed to Facebook, and Facebook gets the item details. Responses are formatted in JSON.

MyChores is a website where users can manage and track their chores or recurring tasks. Users can also form groups and assign group members different chores or tasks. MyChores also offers an API. Requests can be made through HTTP GET requests and data is returned in JSON or XML format. HTTP Basic Authentication is used for most methods, except for Site Statistics.

Appinions is an opinion platform that lets customers collect, analyze and summarize opinions from sources around the world to stay engaged and make smarter, more informed decisions. Millions of news articles, blogs and tweets are processed in order to identify opinions, opinion-holders, topics and other relevant information. Using the API developers can build opinionbased applications using a simple RESTful API. Responses are formatted in XML or JSON.

Radian6 SocialCloud API provides the ability to interact with and fetch Topics, Lookup data and other content from the Radian6 system. For example, you can fetch posts matching given query parameters for a recent number of hours. Radian6 is a social media monitoring tool/platform that helps businesses listen, track, measure and engage in conversations across the social Web.

About the Author: Peter Prestipino is the Editor-In-Chief of Website Magazine. A long-time Internet marketer with over twelve years of experience, Prestipino a regular speaker on Web technology and entrepreneurship, the author of Web 360: The Fundamentals of Web Success (web360book.com), and an expert on a variety of Web-related topics including the development, deployment and promotion of Internet properties.