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Thing 19: Exploring APIs and Apps

Apps and APIs are tools which make data much more discoverable and usable for all of us - not just researchers!  You can choose to explore both APIs and APPs or just one.

Option 1: How are APIs used with data?

APIs are important for research data because they are used by developers to cleverly make data more discoverable and re-usable eg the Google Maps API is very widely used to record the exact location of a species, or photograph and lets developers embed Google Maps on webpages.

1. Start by watching this easy, short (3.24 min) video, ‘What is an API?

2. Metadata records often show at least 2 different APIs in action. Interview material from Western Sydney women's oral history project: 'From farms to freeways: Women's memories of Western Sydney' metadata record shows both:

  • Google Maps API for the area map (zoom in to see the exact location where the data was collected)
  • Views and Accesses API

3. Trove at the National Library of Australia uses APIs to showcase National Library of Australia collections in amazing ways. Check out the Trove Applications Galley to see some clever uses of Trove APIs.

Just for fun: Stay in the Trove Applications Galley to find out what was making news today in history?

Click on Culture Collage icon Trove-Culture Collage >> then click on the On this day Trove On this day API icon !

Option 2: Apps for researchers and citizen scientists (is that you?)

Often several little APIs underpin a (software) App(lication) (program).  Data gatherers in the field use apps to make data collection easier, more accurate and more rich. eg fill out data forms offline on their smartphones and tablets, capture images, photos, videos and sounds, track locations on maps (probably using the Google Map API), and much more. They're flexible tools that can help researchers gather more information and work faster.

Choose one or both of these links to explore:

Consider: most of us have used public transport apps and APIs - think about the source of the data which enables real time transport information to be presented to you via an easy to read App and/or API.

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