Developer42

2011-06-28

A Request / Random Thoughts

As with many of my posts, this is basically an unedited brain dump – apologies. Hopefully this will encourage some interesting comments / discussion though. . .

A Standard for Developer APIs
Facebook, Twitter, Worpress (and I’m sure Google+ will) offer APIs to developers allowing them to pull data out of their applications and manipulate it as they like. Most of these services offer similar functions; authentication, get the last x posts, pull back a grid of contacts, etc. All do this in their own way.
What would be great is some unification – either a library over the top of the existing APIs to pull them all in line, or for some set of social standards to be formed in the same way Netscape, IE, Mozilla and more came up with ECMAScript as a way to allow javascript to become portable. What I’m hoping for is something like this:

//this is entirely made up code - not (yet) some awesome new Google thing 
var application = GetApplication('Google+'); //creates a new object with an "application interface" for Google+
if (application.authenticate('Developer42','DemoCodePassword') //authenticate a user against the web app
{
    var identity = application.me(); //pull back an object which represents me
    var allFriends = me.ListContacts(); //by default pull back all contacts
    var colleagues = me.ListContacts('colleagues'); //or filter by group
    var posts = identity.GetPosts(20); //get my last 20 posts
    var friendsPosts = allFriends.GetPosts(100); //Get the last 100 posts by my friends/contacts
}

A Service for Services
This is probably what the guys who came up with UDDI were thinking:

If two companies offer a service to give out exchange rate information, and both use the same standard, when I want to get back exchange rate info why can’t I just post a request to the web saying “give me the exchange rate from USD to GBP” and have it chuck back .67 without all the hassle of searching for a suitable service.

There’s a whole bunch of data which we often need, but have to trawl the web for. Search engines began to make this better, WolframAlpha got a bit closer, but no one’s yet cracked it. What I’d like is a single web site containing a catalogue of services and their schemas. I pick a service, write code to its schema, then use the service url to pull back this data. From my point of view I’m just pulling data from http://www.UsefulServices.com/ExchangeRates, but in the background that could be talking to any (approved) provider. I guess the reason this doesn’t yet exist is the issue around monetisation; but surely there’s a way. . . ?
Below’s my wish list of services:

- Exchange Rates
- Share Prices
- National Holidays
- Daylight Savings Dates
- Post Code / Geo (long & lat) Conversion
- Credit Checks
- Product Prices
- Companies House Info

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