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#news2011: A guide to APIs and why ‘everybody who has content’ needs one

November 30th, 2011Posted by in Events, Journalism, Top tips for journalists

API is a term that is increasingly referred to in relation to news outlets. APIs are not new – indeed it has been two years since the Guardian launched it’s open API. But what does it mean for the online journalism industry today and why is are APIs so important?

On the third and final day of the Global Editors Network news summit we heard from Torsten de Riese, who is managing director of NewsCred, which, as he explained, “runs a content API and serves the world’s best journalism”.

He offered delegates a helpful description of APIs and explanation of why they are so useful to content providers, which I got him to expand on in an interview after the session.

The most important part of API is the I, the interface. API is the interface for your content for the rest of world.

It’s the interface to building products, the interface to your apps, it’s the interface to your web, it’s the interface to your IPTV presence.

It enables you to build stuff with your content. It basically takes content, standardises it in terms of format, tagging etc. You can decide how much you want to tag, what standards you want to apply.

Every time someone wants to take your content and build something, they know exactly how to get it.

De Riese, who was involved in the launch of the Guardian’s open API, told the conference that, at the Guardian, there was a “vision to get developers to use our content, build stuff and so we just opened it up”, with “hundreds” of developers now using it and building “really exciting stuff”.

He added that the way the Guardian was able to build its Facebook app recently was thanks to its API. Today the Guardian announced its Facebook app has so far been installed by over four million users.

Developers can just go and build stuff. There are lots of people out there who want to do that, who just want to get on with it. If you give them something they can do something, they can use it.

APIs couples with enthusiasm in the developer community means publishers can “tap into this wonderful world of developers and allow them to come up with some really interesting stuff”.

In the audio interview below I talk to De Riese about APIs and why content providers “all need” the technology.

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