There are thousands of APIs available across many different industries, online today and it can be tough to be able to find just the right API, and make sense of the differences between them. Even two APIs that might share a common resource like photos or videos, might have completely different designs, and make different types of data available. Depending on what your motivations are for wanting to find data, you might have different views of what data is valuable, and which characteristics are most important to you. Many of the companies we talk with about data discovery, express their interest in data that is changing in real time, but in the same breathe, dictate that they want data from API providers who have significant historical data as well. It can be fairly easy to find real-time sources of data, and it can be relatively easy to find data that possess archives but finding API sources that have both proves to be pretty difficult. Making this a pretty interesting challenge when it comes to API discovery.
The federal government is one place to find significant stores of archival data, ranging from economic to environmental–the problem is they don’t have very much data that is delivered in real-time. Social data has recently been a rich place to find real-time data, but leading platforms are increasingly shutting down access to historical data, and in Twitter’s case, they are working to actively monetize it. Data is valuable these days, real time data makes it even more valuable, and each year of historical data you possess makes it exponentially more valuable.
There is no way to immediately know how often the data available within any single API platform changes, or how far back the data goes when you just land on the home page. Streamdata.io is actively tracking on what patterns can be used when evaluating APIs. We are finding that the language providers use to describe their APIs, and the parameters they provide to their consumers, all tell a story. Providing us with details that might make it easier to cut through the noise, and discover the APIs who have the highest potential for change, but also possess valuable historical archives. As we develop our approach we’ll enrich the Streamdata API Gallery with more tools for helping you find what you are looking for.
Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson