Bob DuCharme (Innodata Isogen)RDF lists and SPARQL

Not great, but not terrible, and a bit better with SPARQL 1.1

I have yet to ever say to myself "what I need here is an RDF collection, which I will implement with lots of rdf:first and rdf:rest triples!"

That fact that RDF expresses everything using the same simple three-part data structure has usually been a great strength, but in the case of ordered lists (or RDF collections) it's pretty messy. The specification defines a LISP-like way of using triples to identify, for each position in a list, what the first member is and what list has the rest of them after that. When saying "and here are the rest" for every member of the list, you don't want to have to come up with a unique URI for each one, so datasets typically use blank nodes for these placeholders, and you can end up with a lot of them.

Putting all this together, you could represent the list ("one", "two", "three", "four", "five") with these triples:

@prefix rdf: <> . 
@prefix d:   <> .

d:myList d:contents _:b1 .

_:b1 rdf:first "one" .
_:b1 rdf:rest _:b2 .

_:b2 rdf:first "two" .
_:b2 rdf:rest _:b3 .

_:b3 rdf:first "three" .
_:b3 rdf:rest _:b4 .

_:b4 rdf:first "four" .
_:b4 rdf:rest _:b5 .

_:b5 rdf:first "five" .
_:b5 rdf:rest rdf:nil .

Turtle and SPARQL include syntax that lets you write out a more human-readable version without explicit blank nodes and with the list represented as, well, a list. The following is the equivalent of the example above:

@prefix d: <> .

d:myList d:contents ("one" "two" "three" "four" "five") 

To do much with these lists, though, especially in SPARQL, you still have to think in terms of rdf:first and rdf:rest.

To be honest, I've never found much need to do anything with RDF lists, but after seeing recent references to them—or, in Manu Sporny's case, the lack of them—I thought I'd play around a bit to see how difficult it was in SPARQL to do four basic list tasks:

  • Retrieve the Nth member of a list

  • Retrieve all the members of a list

  • Insert a new member at a specified position

  • Delete a member from a specified position

Update after posting my original entry: Andy Seaborne pointed me to his 2011 blog entry Updating RDF Lists with SPARQL, which includes SPARQL queries covering several additional cases. Also, more from Joshua Taylor at stackoverflow, thanks to Paul Gearon.

I found that SPARQL 1.1's property paths made it easier to concisely address a specific list member without lots of triple patterns, and of course without SPARQL 1.1 update there would be no insertion or deletion of list members. (I'm happy to take suggestions on improving the queries.)

Retrieving the Nth member

The following query retrieves the third member from the list defined above:

PREFIX d: <>

SELECT ?item
  d:myList d:contents/rdf:rest{2}/rdf:first ?item

If you think of it as zero-based counting, it's simple: you just plug the number of the member you're interested in into the curly braces. Using ARQ, the query returns this:

| item    |
| "three" |

But... after writing and testing that, I remembered that the ability to specify a specific number of repeated property path steps by putting a number between curly braces was dropped in the 24 July 2012 Working Draft of the SPARQL 1.1 Query spec, so it's not proper SPARQL. It works just the same when you replace rdf:rest{2} with rdf:rest/rdf:rest, which is a minor change, but specifying every step like that will be a pain if you want to retrieve the twenty-third member of the list.

I've replaced the rdf:rest{2} that was in the original draft of the insert and delete queries below with rdf:rest/rdf:rest.

Retrieving all the members

The following retrieves all of the list items. As an added bonus, ARQ displayed them in order, but that was just luck, and not something to count on, because stored triples have no order.

PREFIX d:   <>
PREFIX rdf: <>

SELECT ?item
  d:myList d:contents/rdf:rest*/rdf:first ?item

Of course, changing the first line to SELECT (count(?item) AS ?items) would give you the number of members in the list, which is also handy.

Inserting a new member at a specific position

The main work is breaking the link where the insertion will take place and then linking the new member in.

PREFIX d: <>
  ?insertionPoint rdf:rest ?rest . 
  _:b1 rdf:first "threePointFive" ; rdf:rest ?rest . 
  ?insertionPoint rdf:rest _:b1 . 
  d:myList d:contents/rdf:rest/rdf:rest/rdf:first ?item .
  ?insertionPoint rdf:first ?item ; rdf:rest ?rest . 

Here is how the dataset looks after using TopBraid Composer to run this query on the data above:

@prefix d: <> .
  d:contents (
    ) ;

Deleting a member from a specified position

The following deletes the third item from the list. As with the previous query, the main work is breaking the link and creating a new one across the gap where the deleted item was:

PREFIX d: <>
  ?previousMember rdf:rest ?deletionPoint .
  ?deletionPoint rdf:rest ?rest . 
  ?s ?p ?item   . 
  ?item ?s ?p . 
  ?previousMember rdf:rest ?rest.
  d:myList d:contents/rdf:rest/rdf:rest/rdf:first ?item .
  ?deletionPoint rdf:first ?item ;  rdf:rest ?rest . 
  ?previousMember rdf:rest ?deletionPoint .
  ?s ?p ?item . 
  OPTIONAL { ?item ?s ?o . }

Running this update request after running the insertion one before it results in a dataset that looks like this:

@prefix d: <> .
  d:contents (
    ) ;

So we know it worked.

Taking it further

I won't remember the syntax of these queries without reviewing them as written here, but I know that I can copy them from here and paste them elsewhere with minor modifications to perform these basic list manipulation goals.

On the other hand, in the work I've done with RDF and SPARQL, I have yet to say to myself "what I need here is an RDF collection, which I will implement with lots of rdf:first and rdf:rest triples!" So, the exercise above seems a bit academic. (In fact, my original goals above look like a homework assignment; for extra credit, modify the queries so that the targets can be specified based on their values and not their positions.) If I need to order some instances in RDF, I'm more likely to give them some property I can use to sort them. I'd love to hear pointers from anyone about places where using rdf:first and rdf:rest addressed a data modeling issue better than any alternative would.

Still, the queries above show that maybe RDF collections are not as bad as I originally thought, and that SPARQL 1.1 property paths can make certain tasks more straightforward to achieve.

Please add any comments to this Google+ post.

Shelley Powers (Burningbird)It's Just a Tool

I gather that Mozilla has named some marketing person as interim CEO as they search for a replacement who would be acceptableeffective.

I don't care, really. Mozilla is an organization that provides support for Firefox, a tool I use. I'm using Firefox because it is the browser that irritates me the least at this time. I used Chrome previously, but stopped when yet another unexpected-and-suddenly-appearing design change made it marginally unusable.

I appreciate the hard working souls who work on the browsers and the specifications that form the basis for the technology implemented in the browsers—most of whom don't work for Mozilla, or Google for that matter. Most of them don't get paid for their work, either.

If anyone deserves passionate support, it's the people who labor on the technology that goes into my browser. Anything else is just organizational politics benefiting some corporate entity.

In the meantime, I use Firefox. I don't do so because of loyalty or because of some cause. It's just a tool.

ProgrammableWebToday in APIs: WSO2 to Host Integrated Ecosystem Workshops, and 11 new APIs

WSO2 is set to host three workshops on integrated ecosystems across three Asia-Pacific cities throughout the month of May. Plus, the role of APIs in cross-border currency transfer and 11 new APIs.

WSO2 to Host Integrated Ecosystem Workshops

WSO2 will be hosting three Asia-Pacific workshops next month on integrated ecosystems. An integrated ecosystem, in the eyes of WSO2, constitutes a connected business that integrates people, processes, and data across an extended value chain. In three different cities (Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, and Auckland), WSO2 will conduct workshops that teach attendees how to build a connected business through the use of cloud, mobile, API, big data, social, and open source technologies.

The workshops are designed for enterprise architects, IT managers, CIOs, and SOA experts. More on the “Integrated Ecosystem” series can be found at the individual registration sites (Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Auckland).

APIs You Shouldn’t Miss

11 New APIs

Today we had 11 new APIs added to our API directory including an application inspection tool, a crowdsourcing ideas tool, an application download install tool, a user notification tool and a restful application builder and http services tool. Below are more details on each of these new APIs.

Apperian App Inspections Apperian App Inspections API: Apperian is a mobile app management platform with a set of open APIs that handle the key elements to extend, integrate, and create additional functionality and value.

The App Inspections API is used to request inspection of an application. It can also be used to acquire a previously generated inspection report. Inspections are used to screen apps for risky behavior and vulnerabilities. The inspections are performed with Appthority Platform™.

Apperian Crowdsourcing IdeasApperian Crowdsourcing Ideas API: Apperian is a mobile app management platform with a set of open APIs that handle the key elements to extend, integrate, and create additional functionality and value.

The Crowdsourcing Ideas API enables users of the App Catalog to submit ideas. They can submit ideas about new apps as well as ideas for other improvements for the organization.

Apperian Downloads and InstallsApperian Downloads and Installs API: Apperian is a mobile app management platform with a set of open APIs that handle the key elements to extend, integrate, and create additional functionality and value.

The Downloads and Installs API enables the download and install of native applications to a user’s device from the EASE server. The user must be assigned to the applicable group to have access to the application.

Apperian Push Notifications Apperian Push Notifications API: Apperian is a mobile app management platform with a set of open APIs that handle the key elements to extend, integrate, and create additional functionality and value.

The Push Notifications API is used to send users push notifications on their devices that are running native iOS and Android App Catalogs. You can send Application Update Notifications, Group Messages, and Application Messages.

ASP.NET WebASP.NET Web API: ASP.NET is a web framework for building standard-based websites. The framework supports HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

With the ASP.NET Web API you can build HTTP services for browsers and mobile devices. It provides a platform for building RESTful applications on the .NET Framework. They can return any kind of content that the web supports, including JSON and XML.

CodenvyCodenvy API: Codenvy provides cloud-based services that include public cloud-based workspaces and private enterprise clouds. It provides facilities for quickly launching projects and for embedding and distributing environments. The Codenvy API gives developers extensive access to the platform’s features. These include the ability to create, manage, and retrieve information on instances, projects, organizations, factories, and users.

HTC Common ControlsHTC Common Controls API: HTVdev provides resources to develop ideas and applications within HTC devices. It also enables connection with HTC and other developers.

The HTC Common Controls API extends the existing set of Android widgets with a suite of customized general purpose controls. By reusing these common controls, application and widget developers can create an HTC look and feel to applications.

HTC Scribe PenHTC Scribe Pen API: HTVdev provides resources to develop ideas and applications within HTC devices. It also enables connection with HTC and other developers.

Providing HTC Scribe technology with HTC tables, the HTC Scribe Pen API is a framework for drawing applications. The framework provides pen controls, settings, and properties that are available to the native applications, as well as the ability to interact with the pen’s buttons.

HTC Sound EnhancerHTC Sound Enhancer API: HTVdev provides resources to develop ideas and applications within HTC devices. It also enables connection with HTC and other developers.

The HTC Sound Enhancer API provides access to the Sound Enhancer configuration settings within your application. With this access you can customize the audio experience and optimize sound with special settings for different media.

HTC Stereoscopic 3DHTC Stereoscopic 3D API: HTVdev provides resources to develop ideas and applications within HTC devices. It also enables connection with HTC and other developers.

The Stereoscopic 3D API implements stereoscopy technology on the EVO 3D to create glasses free 3D imagery. The screen resolution is halved by blocking the stereo pair of images from the opposite eye’s field of vision. This accommodates both left and right images in the display.

RealFaviconGeneratorRealFaviconGenerator API: RealFaviconGenerator is a service for creating favicons that will work across multiple platforms. Favicons are provided for use with desktop PCs and Macs as well as for iOS, Android, and other mobile devices. The RealFaviconGenerator API allows users to integrate the favicon generator into their own CMS or web page editing services.

ProgrammableWeb: APIsCodenvy

CodenvyCloud-based development platform provider
Date Updated: 2014-04-18
Tags: backend, cloud

ProgrammableWeb: APIsASP.NET Web

ASP.NET WebRESTful Application Builder and HTTP services
Date Updated: 2014-04-18
Tags: application, applications, development

ProgrammableWeb: APIsHTC Stereoscopic 3D

HTC Stereoscopic 3DStereoscopic 3D for EVO 3D
Date Updated: 2014-04-18
Tags: 3d, visualizations

ProgrammableWeb: APIsHTC Common Controls

HTC Common ControlsCustomized control extensions for HTC
Date Updated: 2014-04-18
Tags: application, applications, development

ProgrammableWeb: APIsHTC Sound Enhancer

HTC Sound EnhancerApplication Sound Enhancer
Date Updated: 2014-04-18
Tags: application, audio, development

ProgrammableWeb: APIsHTC Scribe Pen

HTC Scribe PenPen Control for HTC Scribe Pen
Date Updated: 2014-04-18
Tags: application, development, writing

ProgrammableWeb: APIsRealFaviconGenerator

RealFaviconGeneratorCross-platform favicon generator
Date Updated: 2014-04-18
Tags: BROWSER, cms, image, tools, website

ProgrammableWeb: APIsApperian Crowdsourcing Ideas

Apperian Crowdsourcing IdeasCrowdsourcing Ideas Tool
Date Updated: 2014-04-18
Tags: applications, crowdsourcing, social

ProgrammableWeb: APIsApperian App Inspections

Apperian App Inspections Application Inspection Tool
Date Updated: 2014-04-18
Tags: applications, reporting

ProgrammableWeb: APIsApperian Push Notifications

Apperian Push Notifications User Notification Tool
Date Updated: 2014-04-18
Tags: applications, notifications

ProgrammableWeb: APIsApperian Downloads and Installs

Apperian Downloads and InstallsApplication Download Install Tool
Date Updated: 2014-04-18
Tags: accessibility, applications

ProgrammableWebMQTT Promotes Standards, Interoperability on IoT

Last week MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) provided developers with a signal that it may be emerging as a de facto protocol for the IoT. This validation comes in the light of positive MQTT Interoperability Test Day results that were published by the host of the event: The Eclipse Foundation and the Eclipse IoT Working Group.

The Eclipse Foundation and the Eclipse IoT Working Group announced the results of a MQTT Interoperability Test Day held in March during which 15 companies, including large software vendors like IBM, Software AG and RedHat, tested how well various implementations of MQTT adhere to the draft specification and how interoperable they are with each other.

Players in the IoT space have been moving slowly on standards but The Eclipse Foundation’s Ian Skerrett, expects the recent developments with MQTT will help change that. “I think we are already seeing more adoption of MQTT. Developers want and need some of the basic building blocks for creating IoT applications. They are tired of reinventing it themselves. Demonstrating that MQTT is indeed interoperable will help with future adoption,” Skerrett explains.

Leading the Drive for Interoperability: MQTT

According to Skerrett, interoperability is crucial to the burgeoning IoT market. “The current state of the IoT industry has resulted in a lot of siloed, proprietary solutions,” he told me. “Many of these solutions will offer an ‘open’ API but that API only works for the proprietary solutions. This makes it very difficult for the users to integrate solutions from different providers. If we really want an ‘Internet of Things’ it needs to be easy to integrate like we can with the real Internet.”

One of the early protocols is Message Queuing Telemetry Transport, or MQTT, developed by IBM and Eurotech and designed to provide publish/subscribe messaging transport. While still early, the test results paint an encouraging picture for developers looking for standards to emerge.

“Overall, more than 50% of the test pairs were considered successful. At this stage of the standardization process, this demonstrates a good level of interoperability between MQTT implementations and points to the ease of creating interoperable IoT solutions based on MQTT,” the Eclipse Foundation stated in a press release.

Another test day is planned for later this year and Skerrett believes that even more progress will be evident then: “The next test day will be focused on the final specification for MQTT. Right now it is still in draft form so not all the providers have updated their implementation. I will expect at the next test day we would see a lot more participants and more instances of successful testing.”

Future Development

The Internet of Things (IoT) is booming, and as more and more companies look to connect the world using sensors and smart devices, establishing protocols that will serve as the backbone of the IoT is one of the most important steps in ensuring the IoT realizes its trillion-dollar potential.

HTTP is the foundation of the web we use on a daily basis, but the IoT has different needs. For one, the IoT will be home to a lot more devices. Billions of smart devices, including sensors, will be a part of the IoT network. Additionally, many of them will need to communicate with each other and operate in environments where bandwidth and computing resources are constrained, which is one of MQTT’s sweet spots.

There is still work to be done, both on MQTT and other protocols that are being adopted. As Holger Reinhardt of Layer 7 Technologies has noted, “each protocol has weaknesses.” MQTT, he suggests, “appears to be weak in security.”

Skerrett acknowledges that security is an important subject and believes it is one of the biggest issues facing the IoT industry as a whole. For many of standards developing around protocols, finding a balance between usability and security could be key.

“I think the challenge for MQTT will be to retain its simplicity and ease of use. All too often you see ‘feature-creep’ emerge in successful standards. Right now it does a very good job with a simple specification,” Skerrett says.

Ultimately, a number of key standards and protocols, such as MQTT, will be broadly adopted across various IoT applications, says Skerrett, but because the IoT is so diverse and there are so many varied applications, there is also room for application-specific protocols, many of which will likely be built on top of open standards like MQTT.

ProgrammableWebToday in APIs: Aplos’s API for Nonprofits, and 6 New APIs

Aplos releases an API for nonprofit management and raises $2 million. Right Brain Media’s ReadyCast APIs and app uses iPhone, iPod and iPad cameras to live stream events. Plus: the implications of Google Adword changes, securing digital channels and mobile apps against hacks, and 6 new APIs.

Aplos Software Releases API, Raises $2M

Alpos Software creates offers SaaS for nonprofits. Now it’s launching an API with the help of $2 million in funding just raised.

As the company commented,

The new financing from private investors brings the company’s total funding to $3.4 million. Aplos Software plans to use the new financing to accelerate the development schedule for new features in its existing nonprofit accounting and donor management software. This includes the release of an API to integrate with other popular web-based software used by churches and nonprofits. Since the release of its web-based software in 2011, Aplos Software has served over 10,000 organizations with its nonprofit software suite.

The idea of creating an integrated software solution targeted at nonprofits isn’t unique to Aplos. But most packages are targeted at large nonprofits. As the company notes, most nonprofits have expenses under $500,000, suggesting that the SaaS can be scaled appropriately for the large number of smaller organizations.

ReadyCast Uses APIs to Streamline Streaming from iPhones, iPads, iPods

The age of mobile broadcasting has arrived. Right Brain Media’s ReadyCast App makes it possible to live stream from any iOS device. Available as an App from the iTunes store, it’s ideal for streaming from business seminars, trade shows, sporting events, church services, and so on.

As the company comments, ReadyCast works  so that the incoming stream is correctly formatted for an iOS, desktop or Android device:

“ReadyCast makes mobile broadcasting easy,” said Deke Hooper, CIO at Right Brain Media. “It makes streaming really convenient – for anyone – because of the automated provisioning that our system offers. All of the API calls that are available help to streamline the process for users.”
The available API calls make it quick and easy for the average user to log in to ReadyCast on their mobile device and begin live streaming in minutes.

Use of the app requires an approved ReadyCast provider, available by emailing

API News You Shouldn’t Miss

6 New APIs

Today we had 6 new APIs added to our API directory including an application data request tool, a user application access management tool, an authentication and user detail management service and a search optimization service. Below are more details on each of these new APIs.

Apperian ApplicationsApperian Applications API: Apperian is a mobile app management platform with a set of open APIs that handle the key elements to extend, integrate, and create additional functionality and value.

The Applications API enables the request of statistical data and metadata for the Android, Blackberry, and native OS applications that are stored in the EASE database. Data can be requested for all native applications in your organization and those available to a specific user. Data can also be requested for a specific application and for all the app catalogs in your organization.

Apperian GroupsApperian Groups API: Apperian is a mobile app management platform with a set of open APIs that handle the key elements to extend, integrate, and create additional functionality and value.

The Groups API is used to add, edit, list, and delete groups in EASE. Users must be a member of the group to which an application belongs in order to view and run the application. This API enables the ability to control and organize application access through group creation.

Apperian UsersApperian Users API: Apperian is a mobile app management platform with a set of open APIs that handle the key elements to extend, integrate, and create additional functionality and value.

The Users API is used to authenticate with the EASE server. It provides the unique token that is needed in the HTTPS requests sent to EASE web services. The API is also used to add users, list user details, update user attributes, and delete users.

GreenButton IncusGreenButton Incus API: GreenButton is a New Zealand based company that helps software vendors transition applications to the cloud. With their platform, developers can scale our their compute-intensive applications to the cloud.

The InCus Search API is a new search optimization solution, providing a way for customers to access the media indexing service. It enables optimized searching of content from a variety of sources – meeting content, conference calls, presentations, online lectures, voice mails, internet videos. For example, users can index audio from digitized content archives, creating optimized search and discovery.

TelecashTelecash API: TeleCash is a mobile money service from Telecel. Subscribers can conduct money transactions with their mobile phone.

The TeleCash API enables the validation of credit cards, the storing of credit card data in the TeleCash DataStorage, and the creation of credit card payments.

Triptelligent Shore ExcursionsTriptelligent Shore Excursions API: Triptelligent is a shore excursion marketplace for travelers on cruise ships. Cruise guests are connected with tour operators, local guides, and personalized services.

The Shore Excursions API enables integrating shore excursion content on partner websites. Content can include full descriptions, pictures, and client reviews. The API provides a full booking engine that has integrated handling of credit cards.

ProgrammableWebTwitter’s Acquisition of Gnip Highlights Rise of Aggregators in DaaS Market

On Tuesday, social media giant Twitter announced that it is buying Data as a Service (DaaS) provider Gnip for an undisclosed amount. Gnip, which is one of several companies that sell access to the firehose of the content posted on Twitter, was founded in 2008 and today offers data from a number of popular user-generated services in addition to Twitter.

As Twitter VP of Global Business Development & Platform Jana Messerschmidt explains, “We want to make our data even more accessible, and the best way to do that is to work directly with our customers to get a better understanding of their needs.” For Twitter, flush with cash from its 2013 IPO, buying one of the companies it has partnered with to sell real-time firehose access was an obvious way to gain direct access to the growing number of companies using its data.

According to Messerschmidt, the acquisition will give the company the ability to develop more useful offerings. “We believe Gnip has only begun to scratch the surface. Together we plan to offer more sophisticated data sets and better data enrichments, so that even more developers and businesses big and small around the world can drive innovation using the unique content that is shared on Twitter,” she says.

DaaS: Aggregation crucial to success?

The rise of the DaaS market reflects the insatiable demand businesses have for data. Data from the social web, in particular, has been particularly appealing to companies and is increasingly used in a variety of applications, such as brand monitoring and sentiment analysis. Companies like Gnip and DataSift, which ProgrammableWeb’s Janet Wagner recently profiled, have taken advantage of the demand by aggregating data from a variety of sources, including Facebook, Instagram and Foursquare, and making them available via API.

Interestingly, a number of data providers have chosen to offer their data firehoses exclusively through Gnip instead of selling access to their APIs directly. This raises an important question: might it become increasingly difficult for some data providers to succeed with a homegrown DaaS strategy?

It’s logical that companies hungry for data will prefer to acquire access to new data sources quickly and without unnecessary one-off integrations. DaaS providers like Gnip can offer access to a growing portfolio of data sets through a single relationship and unified, consistent API, potentially making them more attractive than competing data offerings that are sold individually by a company that can only offer its own data and API.

While Twitter ostensibly purchased Gnip with a focus on improving the delivery of its own data, if the aggregation trend continues to gain momentum, the microblogging company’s purchase of Gnip could put Twitter in an ideal position in the booming data economy.

ProgrammableWebSamsung’s Position On Tizen May Hurt Developer Recruitment

Samsung isn’t making it easy for developers. The company may have released a handful of SDKs for its latest devices, but Samsung’s non-committal approach to its Tizen platform is probably going to cost it developer support.

Samsung’s first smartwatch, released in October last year, ran a modified version of Google’s Android platform. The device had access to about 80 apps at launch, all of which were managed by a central smartphone app. Samsung offered developers an SDK for the Galaxy Gear so they could create more apps. Developers obliged. Then Samsung changed direction.

Samsung announced a new series of smartwatches in February: the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit. Unlike the first device, these three run Samsung’s Tizen platform. Tizen is based on Linux and other open-source standards. Samsung has been working on Tizen with Intel for years. It is supposed to be used for smartphones, but why not throw it into a watch? This way Samsung can say it relies on Google for one less thing. Though the user interface of the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo looks nearly identical to that of the first smartwatch, all the underlying code is different. Samsung also released a brand new set of SDKs for its Tizen-based watches, but the devices launched with only a couple dozen apps and developers haven’t been as quick to add more. (Granted, it is still early days for the Tizen watches.)

This week, Samsung made things even more interesting. Speaking to Reuters, Yoon Han-kil, senior vice president of Samsung’s product strategy team, said the company is working on a watch that will use Google’s Android Wear platform. In other words, Samsung will bring three different watches to market with three different operating systems in under a year. At this point, developers might be best off if they ignore the first- and second-generation smartwatches from Samsung and wait for the third. Here’s why.

Android Wear is Google’s new platform for wearable devices. It is based on Android, but will be modified for smaller screens and varying form factors. The first such devices will be smartwatches. Motorola and LG have already committed to bringing smartwatches to market. They showed off early builds of their stuff last month (Motorola’s watch looks hot!) Samsung has thrown its hat in this ring, too. Why? Because it has to. Samsung can’t take the chance of ignoring this new Google-backed platform for wearables. Android Wear is probably going to become the default platform for most wearables moving forward. With a number of major companies supporting the platform, it has the best chance of succeeding in this still-nascent market. Google is naturally offering developers an SDK for Android Wear so they can create apps for the platform.

Since Android Wear is on the horizon, it really raises questions about just how much effort developers should put into Samsung’s Tizen smartwatches. Samsung sold about 3.5 million Galaxy Gear devices in 2013. The improved devices will likely sell in similar or somewhat higher numbers thanks to expanded smartphone support. Android Wear-based hardware, however, is on deck to clobber those numbers. Supporting Tizen won’t be an entirely wasted effort, but the bigger numbers down the road could be more enticing to developers and cause some to skip Tizen for the time being.

ProgrammableWebEnigma Opens Door to Public API and Platform Access

Open data startup Enigma has released its platform to the public and now provides the open Enigma API so that developers can begin drawing on open data sources and feeding them into their applications. Co-founder Marc DaCosta spoke with ProgrammableWeb about the importance of encouraging developer involvement, and why Enigma can succeed when other open data platforms have had difficulties building a sustainable model.

Enigma is an open data platform with current access to almost 70,000 datasets, from U.S. and international sources. New datasets are added almost daily, and users can easily request datasets to be added. As a startup that’s already won several industry awards and recently secured $4.5 million in funding, Enigma has focused on supporting its corporate clients in key industries in order to build the platform. Now it’s ready to make the platform available to the public, and anyone can register for a free account or enter a paid plan which provides access to the Enigma API.

“We have relaunched the enigma web app, from an enterprise-scoped product into a public platform that anyone can go to interact with and build apps off of,” DaCosta told ProgrammableWeb.

Open data for the public

DaCosta explains the motivations behind opening up the platform to wider usage:

We started thinking more deeply about what position we want in the open data world. It has been fascinating to watch open data as a concept take shape over the past five years, when it has grown with a lot of different stakeholders involved. But [it's] still a very uncharted, fertile, and unfolding territory to be involved in.

There has been great progress—as was recently demonstrated by the OpenData 500 launch, which showed how companies are using open data sources to feed their product development and business processes across industry. However, there are also many more opportunities that have not even started to be realized.

“It is exciting because we really believe that in five to 10 years down the road, we will be in a world where you will be able to look at a building, and see the data signature (who is it owned by and what else it is involved in), as you would use Wikipedia now to look up Crimea to learn more about its natural resources, for example,” DaCosta says.

API access to open data

Part of opening up the platform has included making an API available. While free account holders can test the API in a sandbox environment, paid subscribers can make up to 50,000 API calls a month.

“The way that the API works is that anyone gets basic sandbox API access to prototype a use for it,” DaCosta explains. “Once it gets to a commercial application stage, we have a basic developer pricing level. Users have these sandbox API keys so developers can use these directly in their app prototypes. Our opening gambit is in terms of building a large community around open data. So the sandbox API is very important to that.”

Several REST APIs are provided, enabling access to dataset metadata, the data itself, a stats API that allows developers to perform analysis such as calculating averages based on variables in the data, and an export API that allows developers to download datasets in CSV format.

Documentation provided includes brief descriptions of each API and the parameters and attributes of each, as well as an interactive screen that shows an example data request or response, and a sandbox tab where users can test API requests themselves.

Opportunities for developers

Da Costa is committed to focusing now on fostering developer communities and encouraging developers to “harness this data to do interesting things.” To that end, Enigma has focused on enabling app developers to immediately begin making use of any data they need from the stores of datasets on the platform:

If you are an app developer and you want to help consumers make more informed choices, you don’t necessarily need to understand all the datasets that might help you do that. Instead, you can start with the manufacturer of a product and find out all the datasets related to that manufacturer and work from there.

You don’t need to worry about data-as-a-service type layer, you don’t have to manage all the datasets that power your apps.

At times the interface can still be confusing for newbies, but Enigma is structured in a way that means you do not need to know what datasets exist that may help you. Users can search via location, keywords or company names to surface all datasets where those attributes are mentioned, then work backwards to drill down into what datasets may be most useful for a query. Once a dataset is filtered to show just the items wanted, it can be saved or exported and then a similar query can be performed on another dataset.

Managing data quality

One of the strengths of the Enigma platform is its focus on cleaning and organizing data before it is imported. Unlike platforms like CKAN, which is used by governments and cities around the world to publish their data, Enigma polishes its data first so all datasets are available in a clear table format, and have been formatted in JSON to be available for request calls via API. CKAN, on the other hand, lets the data publishers decide, which means data is uploaded in multiple formats: from CSV, to PDF, to spreadsheets, to API. It is up to the developer-consumers to wrangle the data into the format they want to use.

Enigma solves this problem by having a highly curated element to its business model. “There is a lot of data quality issues when you are dealing with for example,” DaCosta says. ( is built using CKAN.) “It is not always done in a way where the data is in a usable format. To have a platform where the data is easy to surface and to use the data in the first place will help with the velocity of open data, it is much more within people’s reach and ability to discover.”

Enigma also provides a number of features to encourage data accessibility: a roadmap feature lets users identify datasets they want to have added, and a progress status is providing informing of the potential timeframe for the date sets to come online.

A trending feature lets users see what datasets are most popular on the platform, creating an almost social aspect to discovering datasets:

Four use cases for open data using Enigma

1. Investigative journalism

“We have worked with some not-for-profit and investigative journalists to further civic media and public good projects,” says DaCosta, when asked about how developers can gain free access to the API. DaCosta cites examples such as the connection of shell companies, and the “ability to follow supply chains and see where U.S. military uniforms are being manufactured, for example.”

2. Real estate investment

“We are working with a lab at MIT that is using the public Enigma API to power visualizations to create portraits of cities: with real estate assessment values, hospitalization intake causes, things that assess the safety of local communities, etc., all data sources that together create powerful tools for civic engagement,” says DaCosta.

Some developers are using the data to identify quality building contractors, while others are using building permit data to identify energy-efficient building designs, and therefore property investment opportunities that will have greater value in the longer term: “You can take building permit information filed by building contractors, and then look at who are the good contractors, for example,” suggests DaCosta. “There is a group up in Boston that is using the import data we have to look at the carbon scores of the properties they are buying.”

3. Assessing business risks

In an interview with Riskpulse earlier this year, CEO Matthew Wensing mentioned the need for accurate data sources that may help identify specific business risks such as delays to manufacturing caused by port labor disputes. DaCosta sees a day when Enigma may have those datasets available in the Enigma platform:

Right now, you could look at the raw volume of containers that are being held up. There are also datasets from Federal Highway data that will tell you how many trucks are distributing goods, there is also a dataset called the Warren Act where any employer with more than 200 employees has to report any employee layoffs. Also from local manufacturers, you might be able to look at occupational safety data to see if they have had any labor violations, and you can [look] into government contracts and see if a disruption could impact on a manufacturer’s ability to deliver on government contracts.

4. Identifying food sustainability opportunities

ABOVE IMAGE: Detail from infographic on food waste by A to Z Solutions

In the US, it is estimated that 40% of all food ends up being thrown out due to inefficient distribution across the country. In the future, analyzing datasets on Enigma could help find new opportunities to manage food distribution more effectively. “Corporate registrations identify delis and supermarkets,” DaCosta points out. “You could then mash up that data with city health inspection data” as one avenue. There are still a lot of opportunities to mine public data to identify where food gets wasted or where in the chain it goes off, and how to create alternative distribution pathways to make better use of this oversupply to areas with greater demand for more accessible food options.

Barriers to entry

Although Enigma holds a lot of promise, its current subscription price of $395 per month may still be beyond the reach of many early adopters wanting to draw on the wealth of open data for their business cases. The cost savings from easing data discovery (by reducing the need to research potential available datasets themselves) may still be too steep to make the case for using the Enigma platform unless developers are planning on producing a lot of open data-enabled products or tools, or are working in a highly competitive enterprise market, where deep pockets on early adoption of using open data may have strategic business advantage now.

Developers and businesses will need to have clearly thought through what data they will need to access, analyze and integrate in their end use cases before they commit to a subscription.

Beyond the savings in data discovery that the platform provides, the 50,000 calls a month is a fairly small number of API requests to be able to be made when accessing datasets that will also need to be further analyzed before displaying results in the end user interface. For example, in the use case above of real estate investment, there are 92,900 rows of data for building permit applications in New York in 2013. So if a user is looking at data from a number of years, across a number of locations, it will be fairly easy to hit the 50,000 calls a month quickly. The developer-consumer pays for access to the data and to mining it from Enigma via the subscription price, but then also needs to evoke a number of other tools such as data analytics to ensure that the data is comparable across different jurisdictions with different per capita population rates, for example. The developer-consumer will then need to use visualization and reporting tools to create the end result that is shown to customers or used internally to help make better business decisions.

Enigma’s greatest use for developers may still be amongst those who are thinking several steps ahead and want to play with new ways to discover data sets and practice filtering data into usable chunks. From there, the API may help identify how a developer could automate such data queries. But to move to a commercial application, developer-consumers may need to have a clear business case in mind with good projections as to the value of drawing on open data sources via Enigma before they are willing to pay the subscription fee involved.

By Mark Boyd. Mark is a freelance writer focusing on how we use technology to connect and interact. He writes regularly about API business models, open data, smart cities, Quantified Self and e-commerce. He can be contacted via email, on Twitter or on Google+.

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Jeremy Keith (Adactio)Fragmentions

Cennydd’s latest piece in A List Apart is the beautifully written Letter to a Junior Designer.

I really like the way that Cennydd emphasises the importance of being able to explain the reasoning behind your design decisions:

If you haven’t already, sometime in your career you’ll meet an awkward sonofabitch who wants to know why every pixel is where you put it. You should be able to articulate an answer for that person—yes, for every pixel.

That reminds me of something I read fourteen(!) years ago that’s always stayed with me. In an interview in Digital Web magazine, Joshua Davis was asked “What would you say is beauty in design?” His answer:

Being able to justify every pixel.

Here’s a link to the direct quote …except that link probably won’t work for you. Not unless you’ve installed this Chrome extension.

What the hell am I talking about? Well, this is something that Kevin Marks has been working on following on from the recent W3C annotation workshop.

It’s called fragmentions and it builds on the work done by Eric and Simon. They proposed using CSS selectors as fragment identifiers. Kevin’s idea is to use the words within the text as anchor points (like an automatic Command+F):

To tell these apart from an id link, I suggest using a double hash - ## for the fragment, and then words that identify the text. For example:

That link will work in your browser because of this script, which Kevin has added to his site. I may well add that script to this site too.

Fragmentions are a nice idea and—to bring it back to Cennydd’s point—nicely explained.

Tagged with

Have you published a response to this? :

Daniel Glazman (Disruptive Innovations)À l'assaut

Suite à un tweet d'Aymeril Hoang, je viens de lire le billet de Nicolas Colin intitulé « L’industrie du taxi à la frontière de l’innovation ». Un paragraphe m'a méchamment fait tiquer :

Une fois qu’une position a été prise par une entreprise américaine, il n’y a plus de rattrapage possible par une entreprise d’un autre pays. Il est impossible de créer un Google français, de même qu’il est impossible de développer DailyMotion face à YouTube ou de faire prospérer une activité de vente en ligne face à Amazon. Sauf à ce que l’entreprise dominante s’endorme sur ses lauriers (= MySpace défait par Facebook), il n’est plus possible de partir à l’assaut d’une filière une fois que sa transformation numérique est achevée.

Il se trouve que je ne suis pas d'accord du tout et que ce point de vue est un des plus grands regrets personnels de ma carrière. En 1992-1994, j'étais l'auteur d'un des tous premiers agents de messagerie MIME (RFC 1341 à l'époque). Pour les incultes technologiques, MIME est ce qui vous permet d'avoir des pièces jointes dans vos messages, des jeux de caractères différents d'ASCII et pas mal d'autres choses encore. MIME est aussi bien reconnaissable dans les bases du protocole HTTP. Mon outil avait pas mal d'usagers dans le monde, une communauté s'était forgée autour, et faire de ce projet un produit me tentait. Un de mes meilleurs amis (caskaboulons qui se reconnaîtra) m'a alors présenté son père, industriel du logiciel. Celui-ci m'a écouté, attentivement, m'a demandé mon âge, m'a questionné sur mon projet. La réponse, définitive, m'a laminé : « laissez tomber, vous êtes trop jeune et vous lancer face à Microsoft est impossible, vous n'avez aucune chance depuis que Microsoft a décidé de se lancer dans le courrier électronique ». Connement, je l'ai écouté. Je le regrette encore, un million de fois, et je le regretterai toujours.

Cette opinion dictée par les études de marché et la bien-pensance (si vous me permettez ce néologisme) détruit stupidement de la valeur. Aurait-il fallu ne jamais lancer Apache à cause de la domination de Microsoft IIS qui pourtant introduisait de nouvelles fonctionnalités à chaque version ? Aurait-il fallu ne jamais croire en Firefox à cause de la domination mondiale d'Internet Explorer qui certes s'endormait un peu sur ses lauriers ? Aurait-il fallu ne jamais lancer Google à cause de la domination d'Altavista ? Aurait-il fallu faire une croix sur Qt parce que wxWidgets dominait le marché ? Non, je n'y crois pas.

Je crois en deux choses. Tout d'abord une réponse faite par Steve Jobs il y a très, très longtemps, à un journaliste qui l'interrogeait sur le fait qu'Apple ne représentait toujours que 4 ou 5% au plus des parts du marché du PC... Il avait répondu qu'il n'y avait pas besoin d'être le premier pour être un succès. Ensuite, je crois en une chose que Chris Hofmann de Mozilla m'avait dite à Barcelone, lors d'une réunion de mozilliens : si Mozilla avait du faire une étude de marché ou appliquer quelque méthode « habituelle » que ce soit pour lancer Firefox, jamais cela ne serait arrivé ; à la place, ils se sont servis de leur pif et se sont lancés.

Il faut avoir foi en les éléments suivants:

  1. L'innovation perturbatrice. Il est parfaitement possible dans le Logiciel, même pour une toute petite équipe opérant depuis un garage, de donner des coups de boutoir inimaginables à une grande entreprise établie et dominante parce que tout grande entreprise sera toujours plus lourde, moins agile, moins réactive que la petite équipe organisée en commando.
  2. La prise de risque. Si on ne se lançait que lorsque les risques sont nuls, on ne se lancerait jamais.
  3. L'intuition. Les études de marché sur des choses nouvelles et perturbatrices sont difficiles voire impossible à réaliser. J'ai appris depuis bien longtemps qu'il est totalement illusoire de demander aux usagers s'ils apprécient ou vont apprécier une rupture technologique. S'il avait fallu écouter les études de marché, les SMS n'existeraient pas.
  4. La versatilité du marché. Les usagers, même Corporate, sont et restent versatiles. Ils sont constamment à la recherche de la nouveauté, soit par mode, soit par recherche de qualité/modernité, soit par lente désaffection.

Il a mon avis donc parfaitement possible d'attaquer une entreprise américaine dominante sur son marché même après la fin de sa transformation numérique. Il faut le faire en mode commando, en profitant de chaque faille, en trouvant de nouveaux paradigmes, sans écouter les oiseaux de mauvais augure.

Mise à jour: « Don't try to be pioneer if you're relying on market research studies ».

ProgrammableWebToday in APIs: HTC’s Dual Lens SDK, and 10 New APIs

HTC launches SDK for dual lens API. U.S. Department of Education asks what you can do with an API. Plus: the year of the API consumer, Currency Cloud raises $10M, and 10 new APIs.

Seeing is Believing: HTC Offers SDK for Dual Lens API

HTC has launched its SDK for its HTC One (M8) Duo Camera smartphone that mimics the vision capability of the human eye with a pair of independent lenses. In the photo below you see two choices of what to focus on, for example. Properties are assigned to each pixel, allowing for repurposing to maximize image quality.

As Alexander Maxham reports in Android Headlines,

Back in March, HTC had announced that the SDK for the cameras on the HTC One (M8) would be available soon. The camera module is known as the Duo-Camera, and as most of you know it’s capable of doing all kinds of interesting things. The top camera is there primarily for depth information, so you are able to change the focus points, customize the background and do much more. The SDK is for their Dual Lens API, which is now available from HTCDev.

Features that can be controlled include Ufocus (allowing the focus to land on any object in the photo), ForeGrounder (which emphasizes the subject by shifting color and saturation) and Dimension Plus (that enables a parallax view).

Dept. of Ed: What Can You Do With an API?

The U.S. Department of Education has put out a request for information (RFI) on APIs, asking, what can you do with them? The department seeks to increase innovation and access to data in education, as well as increase efficiency.

As David Soo a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Education, writes on the Department’s blog,

…today, we are asking you – student advocates, designers, developers, and others – to share your ideas on how APIs could spark innovation and enable processes that can serve students better. We need you to weigh in on a Request for Information (RFI) – a formal way the government asks for feedback – on how the Department could use APIs to increase access to higher education data or financial aid programs. There may be ways that Department forms – like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – or information-gathering processes could be made easier for students by incorporating the use of APIs. We invite the best and most creative thinking on specific ways that Department of Education APIs could be used to improve outcomes for students.

Those with ideas/feedback are asked to weigh in via email, or by other methods. The deadline is June 2.

API News You Shouldn’t Miss

10 New APIs

Today we had 10 new APIs added to our API directory including a prescription medicine bottle technology, an address input simplification service, a web data extraction service and an ecommerce conversion application service. Below are more details on each of these new APIs.

AdhereTechAdhereTech API: AdhereTech makes medication bottles that are enabled with technology to improve prescription medication adherence.

The AdhereTech API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality of AdhereTech with other applications and to create new applications. Public documentation is not available; interested developers should contact AdhereTech for API information.

CoddressCoddress API: Coddress is an address platform that allows users to simplify their address for input. It has custom input solutions for distinct areas, converting accordingly for different websites.

The Coddress API can provide registered address information to company websites or blogs. It returns CDR search results in XML, JSON format.

ConvExtraConvExtra API: ConvExtra is a web extraction tool. Data can be extracted from sources such as catalogs, online stores, and news feeds. The information is formatted and structured in CVS format, enabling further processing such as price comparisons, product comparisons, or data analyzation. You can also subscribe to receive alerts about the extracted data.

The ConvExtra API is activated by url request and parameters can be transmitted by GET or POST.

GranifyGranify API: Granify is an eCommerce companion application. Granify works with eCommerce sites to predict which customers will and won’t purchase goods and tries to convert them into sales.

The Granify API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality of Granify with other applications. Public documentation is not available; API access comes with account service.

LivewelloLivewello API: LiveWello is a social health management platform. Patients can manage their health using the support of family, friends, and health practitioners.

The LiveWello API allows developers to communicate with the LiveWello servers. Service providers, medical device manufacturers, and health-related websites can utilize the LiveWello personal health management tools. The API provides connection to registration and access, profiles, care teams, journal comments, health records, and documents.

Lumo BodyTechLumo BodyTech API: Lumo BodyTech are wearable technologies to help people with their posture, standing tall and straight, and lifting correctly.

The Lumo BodyTech API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality of Lumo BodyTech with other applications and to create new applications. Public documentation is not available; interested developers should email for more information.

meQuilibriummeQuilibrium API: meQuilibrium is a stress monitoring and management service. Users can use meQuilibrium to monitor their cognitive and stress indicators to manage their stress levels. Employers can offer it to their employees to reduce stress in employees.

The meQuilibrium API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality of meQuilibrium with other applications and to create new applications. Public documentation is not available; interested developers should contact meQuilibrium for more information.

RxREVURxREVU API: RxREVU is a medication cost savings database. RxREVU offers datasets on prescription medication costs. Resellers can integrate the RxREVU datasets into their applications to offer users prescription drug cost savings.

The RxREVU API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality of RxREVU with other applications and to create new applications. Public documentation is not available; interested developers should contact RxREVU for more information. API: is a football prediction API that uses crowd predictions, social sentiment, and historical results to predict scores of soccer (football) matches.

The API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality of with other applications and to create new applications. Public documentation is not available; interested developers should sign up at

VoxSci VAPIVoxSci VAPI API: Voxsciences is a voice recognition technology solutions company that offers Voice-to-Text services.

The VoxSci API, VAPI, allows existing systems to integrate voice to text conversions transparently. Audio files are sent to VAPI, where their system handles the transcriptions, and then sends them back to the originating system.

ProgrammableWebAppDynamics Extends Application Performance Management Reach

Ever since developers discovered the ability to directly manipulate large amounts of data using NoSQL databases, there has been a proliferation of database types across the enterprise. While an increase in the number of database options has been a boon to developers; it creates a level of unprecedented complexity when it comes to managing the overall enterprise IT environment.

Looking to reduce that complexity, AppDynamics, in the spring release of the company’s namesake application performance management service has extended its API support. Support now includes big data stores such as MongoDB, Hadoop, Couchbase and Cassandra. This release also brings support for mobile computing applications.

As leading NoSQL platforms, all four of these database are fundamentally changing. Changes will not only be to how much data developers can easily access, but also how applications are developed and managed. MongoDB, for example, makes it easy for developers to set up an application using a document database without any DBA help at all. Hadoop clusters, meanwhile, usually require IT assistance in terms of setting up the cluster that Hadoop runs on. But once configured most developers simply invoke Hadoop via an existing SQL construct.

AppDynamics CEO Jyoti Bansal says that this release of AppDynamics is trying to provide more visibility into what issues might be affecting the performance of applications. In addition to providing enhanced support for Java, .Net, and PHP applications, the latest version of AppDynamics also includes support for applications written in Node.js and Scala.

In addition, AppDynamics has also made available AppDynamics Mobile Application Monitoring, a version of its performance management software that identifies performance issues with applications running on iOS and Google Android systems.

Between the rise of mobile applications and the continued domination of the Web as a vehicle for delivering software, Bansal says businesses have more riding on the performance of their applications than ever before. While slow internal facing applications may affect employee productivity, poorly performing external applications have a material impact on both revenue and the brand image of the organization. Most IT organizations, however, are not equipped with the tools needed to identify and remediate those issues, says Bansal.

While there is no shortage of application performance monitoring tools, Bansal says what developers need most is tools that not only monitor performance, but also provide insight into how end users are specifically invoking an application. It’s only when armed with both those metrics that developers are going to be informed enough to make intelligent decisions about how to improve the overall application experience. The challenge, of course, is that with applications today touching so many platforms and data sources it’s become increasingly difficult to figure out exactly where to begin that process.

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ProgrammableWebTelerik Makes Framework for JavaScript Available via Open Source

With strong roots in the Microsoft ecosystem, Telerik has always been part of the commercial software landscape. But starting today Telerik, a provider of application development tools, is embracing open source. The company today announced Telerik Kendo UI Core, an open source implementation of the JavaScript framework and user interface tools that Telerik created for its cross-platform application development environments.

Brandon Satrom, lead product manager at Telerik, says that by making available an open source version of its Javascript framework Telerik is obviously trying to increase the base of developers familiar with the company’s application development platform. Telerik will continue to offer a commercial version of Kendo UI for building enterprise class applications. But the core JavaScript framework itself can now be used by any developer under an open source license.

Telerik currently has 20,000 to 25,000 customers. Satrom says there are two to three million developers, so by making Telerik Kendo UI Core available, Telerik expects there be over 100,000 developers that eventually will be familiar with its Javascript environment.

Unlike other open source Javascript frameworks, Telerik has a vested interest in continuing to invest in developing a Javascript framework that is a core element of one of its major commercial development environments.

Available via Github or, Telerik Kendo UI Core includes 38 UI widgets, including all of Kendo UI Mobile and core framework features, such as templates, data binding, and input validation; thousands of tests and best practices; and integration with Bootstrap and UI widgets ready for use with libraries like AngularJS.

Satrom says that as an alternative to JQuery UI, the Telerik Kendo UI widgets are intended to provide access to graphical tools that will be regularly updated by major tools vendor.

In general, commercial software was historically perceived to be of higher quality than open source software. But a new report based on the scanning of 750 million lines of code by Coverity, a provider of application testing tools, finds that the quality of open source code now rivals commercial software.

As JavaScript continues to become the defacto standard for building Web applications there is no shortage of frameworks for developers to choose from. The good news is that while there are a lot of well-documented issues with working with JavaScript, the emergence of more frameworks for JavaScript means that the scripting language is finally getting easier to work with from both a performance perspective and the quality of the code generated.

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ProgrammableWebUS Department of Education Seeks Higher-Ed APIs

The US Department of Education has issued a Request for Information (RFI) regarding the use of APIs in higher education data, student aid programs and processes. The goal of the RFI is to gather ideas that will increase the openness of higher education data, processes, and aid to students and families. The RFI is directed towards all interested parties, and submissions will be accepted through June 2, 2014.

David Soo, US Department of Education Senior Policy Advisor, points towards President Obama’s call for innovation in college access and comments:

“So, today, we are asking you – student advocates, designers, developers, and others – to share your ideas on how APIs could spark innovation and enable processes that can serve students better. We need you to weigh in on a Request for Information (RFI) – a formal way the government asks for feedback – on how the Department could use APIs to increase access to higher education data or financial aid programs.”

At this point, the RFI is purely an information gathering exercise. The department would like to hear ideas surrounding a broad range of potential services and applications. For example, the RFI requests suggestions on how third party apps and organizations can use APIs to ease data access to low income families, first generation students, non-English speakers, and students with disabilities. Additionally, the department seeks ideas surrounding access to data that is currently free (e.g. FAFSA) through third parties who currently charge for services. More general questions about securing access, and providing increased openness through new APIs are also proposed.

While the department is dedicated to exploring how it can be more open, it clearly states the substantial need for privacy protection. Thus, it has clear guidelines on keeping confidential information protected throughout the RFI process and encourages entries that address security in a more open environment. Those interested can learn how to submit entries, guidelines, policies, and more at the RFI notice.

ProgrammableWebToday in APIs: SmartBear & Doran Jones Offer Testing, and 9 New APIs

SmartBear teams with Doran Jones to offer the best in testing. Microsoft’s API strategy seeks disunity, but rarely. Plus: mydoorhandle’s new API, Google Maps fans take on the geography of Game of Thrones, and 9 new APIs.

SmartBear and Doran Jones Team Up to Deliver Testing

We covered SmartBear last week when it released its SOAPUI 5.0. Now, SmartBear has teamed with technology consultancy firm Doran Jones to offer software testers the tools to ensure their software releases meet the highest quality.

As the company commented, both companies are strong advocates for disciplined testing:

“As strong advocates for the discipline of software testing, both Doran Jones and SmartBear find mutual benefit for their customers who need testing services and/or tools,” says Keith Klain, COO of Doran Jones. “We continuously look for partners who are thought leaders in the industry and who understand the progressive way we are training testers. SmartBear puts testers in the center of the testing process and provides them with state-of-the-art tools.”

Among the tools is TestComplete, which empowers both beginning and advanced testers to create, manage and run automated tests for mobile, web, and desktop applications. Another tool is SoapUI, which is an API testing tool that has been downloaded 6 million times.

Microsoft at Build: The Case for API Unity (Mostly)

At the recent Microsoft Build conference, the company discussed its strategy for platforms and devices, making a striking point about APIs. Unity ain’t always best. But most of its strategy is driving in that direction, perhaps one day to go so far as to combine app stores for windows and windows phones.

As Steve Guggenheimer “Guggs” told Techcrunch’s Alex Wilhelm, that API harmony between Windows and Windows Phone had reached 90%:

Regarding how much higher the 90% figure could go, Guggs indicated that Microsoft may not want 100% API unity, due to different device use cases: “[D]o you ever put printer drivers into a phone? Maybe. I don’t know yet. Do you ever put high-end camera support into a laptop? Maybe. I don’t know. So some of the things are logically not in the overlap API sets because they don’t make sense.”

With the few exceptions mentioned, API unity is clearly the trend and has been for years. The commercial advantage–that Microsoft can pitch one build to app developers, is a powerful driver of that unity, likely to severely restrict differentiation.

API News You Shouldn’t Miss

9 New APIs

Today we had 9 new APIs added to our API directory including a service to instantly pinpoint the exact location of any address in canada, a customer contact information validation service, an obtain geolocation information from website visitors service and an identify mobile phone numbers to remain compliant service. Below are more details on each of these new APIs.

StrikeIron Canada Geocode InformationStrikeIron Canada Geocode Information API: Pinpoint the exact location of customers, prospects or competitors with geocode data.

The Canada Address Geocode Information Web Service uses geocode technology from DataFlux to provide a powerful enhancement solution that transforms ordinary addresses into robust information that can support improved logistics and refined demographic reporting.

StrikeIron Contact Record Verification SuiteStrikeIron Contact Record Verification Suite API: Validate, verify, correct and enhance your customers’ contact information in real-time with the Contact Record verification Suite.

The suite provides instant access to email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers and more. The end result is cost- and time-efficiency for your organization.

StrikeIron Geo IP LocationStrikeIron Geo IP Location API: The StrikeIron Geo IP Location Web service allows high precision localization of website visitors. The Web service provides geographic information such as IP Address ranges, IP Address Owner, latitude, longitude, time zone, and a map representing the location, for a given IP Address.

StrikeIron Mobile IDStrikeIron Mobile ID API: Identify U.S. mobile numbers quickly and easily to effectively reach your customers and prospects. New regulations require organizations to be diligent with their mobile marketing practices. StrikeIron’s Mobile ID solution gives you the ability to improve sales and marketing efforts by ensuring that mobile phone numbers you are using are accurate.

The Mobile ID solution is available in both batch and real-time modes. This provides you with the ability to
- Clean up your legacy phone data
- Instantly detect whether a number is a landline or mobile number at the point of data capture.

StrikeIron Phone Number ValidationStrikeIron Phone Number Validation API: Save time and money by ensuring your customers’ phone numbers are correct with StrikeIron’s Phone Number Validation solution. You can easily integrate this cloud based solution into any website, web form, or other business application to improve customer contactability by 90% or more.

This solution verifies the NPA and the NXX (area code and prefix) of all North American Numbering Plan (NANP) phone numbers in the US and Canada. In addition this solution will return each zip code where this NPA/NXX combination exists. It will also give you the number of phone numbers in each of these ZIP codes. We update our data at least every 30 days to ensure we provide the most accurate solution.

StrikeIron Real Time Telephone VerificationStrikeIron Real Time Telephone Verification API: This technology guarantees that your customers provide you with a working, traceable telephone number.

An automated telephone call is placed to the web user, who is told a unique security code. The user then enters that code into their computer, which completes verification. TeleSign authenticates your customer’s telephone number and effectively ensures that “bad apple” web users are routed out before they can ever inflict damage to your online business.

StrikeIron US Geocode InformationStrikeIron US Geocode Information API: Pinpoint the exact location of customers, prospects or competitors with geocode data.

The US Address Geocode Information Web Service uses geocode technology from DataFlux to provide a powerful enhancement solution that transforms ordinary addresses into robust information that can support improved logistics and refined demographic reporting.”

WattTime ImpactWattTime Impact API: WattTime collects power grid energy usage information from many sources and puts it in one place in a standardized format. Users can retrieve this data and use it to shift their energy consumption to when the grid is using greener energy sources. The WattTime Impact API allows users to integrate real-time energy cleanliness data from the website into their projects or applications.

You Don't Need a CRM!You Don’t Need a CRM! API: You Don’t Need a CRM! helps sales team members track and close deals. The process of creating new leads is simplified so that team members can spend less time filling out paperwork and more time pursuing leads. The You Don’t Need a CRM! API allows users to create, update, and retrieve data from their accounts. It also allows users to receive notifications via webhooks. You Don’t Need a CRM! is designed to serve small businesses with fewer than 200 employees.

Daniel Glazman (Disruptive Innovations)MIME

Après mon billet précédent, on vient de me demander si j'avais encore des screenshots de mon agent de messagerie MIME. Il se trouve que oui : c'est visible ici. Les fichiers ont pour date 2003 mais ils ont en fait pas loin de dix ans de plus... Pour mémoire, à l'époque, on envoyait des attachements en utilisant uuencode et uudecode...

ProgrammableWebWhy APIs may be the Key to Kenya’s Economic Development?

Kenya currently lays claim to the world’s largest user base of mobile money. With over 25 million mobile money users in the country, Kenya seems to be a mobile developer’s dream when it comes to potential user base. However, as COSEKE’s Kevin Njoki told ITWeb Africa, developers face major roadblocks in monetizing apps despite the massive mobile money user base. At the heart of the difficulty lies a lack of open APIs from the country’s leading telecommunication companies.

Njoki explained:

“Even with mobile money, it is still hard to integrate all the different platforms out there, since most telcos are yet to open up their systems via an application programming interface (API) to allow us assimilate them in our apps.”

The use of personal bank accounts with traditional financial institutions remains low in Kenya’s developing economy. However, the large network of mobile users and the ease of mobile money within Kenya’s borders have led to a massive mobile money network. Around 25% of Kenya’s GNP flows through mobile money. Njoki believes mobile money’s success should be leading to greater economic expansion. He suggests:

“We have seen the airtime model work perfectly in selling of ringtones and other media that work even on feature phones. I think it is time we also applied the same model when it comes to apps, and I can assure you, Kenya will witness an exponential growth in the number of quality apps being created out there, something that could catapult us in achieving our ‘Silicon Savannah dream’.”

The mobile base in Kenya is enormous. Further, Kenyans have shown themselves readily willing to move money with mobile devices. Lack of an API strategy at the network level has put the brakes on a potentially enormous market for app developers. Many cities across the world are itching to become the next Silicon Valley. However, with an existing customer base eager to spend money in a market that is underdeveloped, the Silicon Savannah might be a few APIs away from reality.

Amazon Web ServicesEvaluate Security Products With no Software Charges by Using AWS Marketplace

Have you shopped at AWS Marketplace lately? The selection keeps on growing and you can easily find, buy, and starting many different types of Software Infrastructure, Developer Tools, and Business Software:

You don't need to worry about procuring a server, installing and configuring an operating system, or installing the actual software that you set out to use in the first place. AWS Marketplace is a short, direct path that will have you up and running in minutes.

Because you can launch fully installed and configured software in minutes, you can easily try out one or more products until you find the one that is the best match for your requirements.

Security Product Trial
For the next thirty days (April 15, 2014 to May 15, 2014) you can evaluate six leading security products via AWS Marketplace. For each eligible product that you use for at least 120 hours, you will receive $175 in AWS Credits, so you'll only pay for the AWS infrastructure that you consume during the evaluation. At the conclusion of the evaluation period, you will automatically be transitioned into a paid subscription. See the Terms and Conditions for additional information.

The following products are eligible for this special promotion:

We hope that you enjoy and get good value from this special promotion!

-- Jeff;


ProgrammableWeb: APIsYou Don't Need a CRM!

You Don't Need a CRM!Lead tracking and management service
Date Updated: 2014-04-15
Tags: CRM, enterprise, leads

ProgrammableWeb: APIsWattTime Impact

WattTime ImpactEnergy type usage data for power grids
Date Updated: 2014-04-15
Tags: Data, energy, utility

ProgrammableWeb: APIsStrikeIron Real Time Telephone Verification

StrikeIron Real Time Telephone VerificationPhone Numbers verification service
Date Updated: 2014-04-15
Tags: Data, reference, retail, verification

ProgrammableWeb: APIsStrikeIron Geo IP Location

StrikeIron Geo IP LocationObtain Geolocation Information from Website Visitors
Date Updated: 2014-04-15
Tags: Data, reference

ProgrammableWeb: APIsStrikeIron Phone Number Validation

StrikeIron Phone Number ValidationValidate Phone Numbers with Optimal Accuracy
Date Updated: 2014-04-15
Tags: Data, reference, retail, verification

ProgrammableWeb: APIsStrikeIron US Geocode Information

StrikeIron US Geocode InformationInstantly PinPoint the Exact Location of Any Address in the U.S.
Date Updated: 2014-04-15
Tags: geocoding, retail, shipping

ProgrammableWeb: APIsStrikeIron Canada Geocode Information

StrikeIron Canada Geocode InformationInstantly PinPoint the Exact Location of Any Address in Canada
Date Updated: 2014-04-15
Tags: canada, geocoding, retail, shipping

ProgrammableWeb: APIsStrikeIron Mobile ID

StrikeIron Mobile IDIdentify Mobile Phone Numbers to remain compliant
Date Updated: 2014-04-15
Tags: Data, reference, retail, verification

ProgrammableWeb: APIsStrikeIron Contact Record Verification Suite

StrikeIron Contact Record Verification SuiteCustomer contact information validation service
Date Updated: 2014-04-15
Tags: CRM, Data, retail, shipping, verification

Amazon Web ServicesEC2 Update - Previous Generation Instances

We have made some important changes to the EC2 pricing and instance type pages. We are introducing the concept of previous generations of EC2 instances.

Amazon EC2 has been around since the summer of 2006. We started with a single instance (the venerable and still-popular m1.small) and have added many over the years. We have broadened our selection by adding specialized instance families such as CPU-Optimized, Memory-Optimized, and Cluster and by adding a wide variety of sizes within each family.

As newer and more powerful processors have become available, we have added to the lineup in order to provide you with access to the best performance at a given price point. The newest instances are a better fit for new applications and we want to make this clear on our website. To this end, we have moved some of the instance families to a new Previous Generations page. Instances in these families are still available as On-Demand, Reserved Instances and Spot Instances. Here's a list of some previous generations and their contemporary equivalents:

Instance Family Previous Generation
Current Generation
General Purpose M1 M3
Compute-Optimized C1 & CC2 C3
Memory-Optimized M2, CR1 R3
Storage-Optimized HI1 I2

While we have no current plans to deprecate any of the instances listed above, we do recommend that you choose the latest generation of instances for new applications.

-- Jeff;


Daniel Glazman (Disruptive Innovations)Welcome cbeard

Among Mozillians, there is a small (not too small, in fact..) group of people who were already here before 15-jul-2003. After that date, we saw old-time contributors rejoin Mozilla one by one, and new hires too, something we had forgotten about since the 2002 Netscape layoffs. Chris Beard was one of them, at the end of 2004 IIRC (time flies, holy cow, time flies...). If old-time Mozillians saw a necessary little shift in the local culture because of these new hires, it was clearly not the case with cbeard, who adapted so well to Mozilla we immediately used his IRC nick to mention him. Having a vision, dealing very well with the community, always open to discussion, leading new projects, highly respected, I'm glad he was appointed interim CEO. Welcome Chris!

ProgrammableWebToday in APIs: Phase2’s Humanitarian API, and 3 New APIs

Phase2 streamlines humanitarian API for Reliefweb. The game Civilization: Beyond Earth hardwires support for Mantle’s API. Plus: getting started with data publishing, Beatport’s API for music culture, and 3 new APIs.

Reliefweb Gets API for Two Decades of Disaster Data

Reliefweb, part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs, (OCHA) has enlisted the help of Phase2 and Development Seed to streamline an API that gives developers access to two decades of disaster data.

As Phase2 commented, Reliefweb collects data from over 4,000 information sources, and needed the API for that data to be intuitive and easy to use:

ReliefWeb’s enhanced API transforms its agglomeration of data into a technology platform used to create knowledge and drive action. By making the tool more developer-friendly and sustainable, and thus facilitating further uses and innovations from the API’s users, Phase2 allowed ReliefWeb to better achieve its own mission to convert information into knowledge. As the API gains users and evolves, we envision it enabling not only broad collaboration with minimal overhead, but also promoting a community of practice in the humanitarian space with the ReliefWeb API at its core.

This could point the way to future collaborations: Reliefweb’s data collection and information products have continued to evolve since it started in 1996. More APIs and configurations are no doubt in the offing.

Mantle API Baked into Civilization Game

Sid Meier’s highly anticipated Civilization: Beyond Earth game will use the Mantle API to extend its distribution. The game, just announced for the fall of 2014, harkens back to the earlier Alpha Centauri days. It’s a kind of Interstellar Oregon Trail where gamers write the next chapter for humanity.

As Syed Muhammad Usman Pirzada reports,

Sid Meier’s team has left no stone unturned in an attempt to distribute it to the widest audience possible. The game not only supports every major platform including Windows, Steam OS, Linux and Mac OS but will also have Mantle API support hardwired into the code. Expect to see Mantle API fueled performance out of the box and without any synthetic updates unlike Battlefield 4 and Thief. It goes without saying that DirectX is supported and unless I am mistaken, Nvidia will be working on bringing out a DX 11 Optimization Driver for the game in a tit for tat fashion.

Out of the wreckage of the apocalypse comes a set of optimistic choices for game players, from becoming sentient computers to becoming indigenous to the new world or remaining as humanity is today.

API News You Shouldn’t Miss

3 New APIs

Today we had 3 new APIs added to our API directory including a multilingual bible verse service, an enterprise collaboration service and a wholesale floral products availability information service. Below are more details on each of these new APIs.

getBiblegetBible API: The getBible API allows users to retrieve Bible verses for their websites in the version and translation that they want. If no version is specified, the English-language King James Version of the Bible is used by default. Some of the other languages available include French, German, Hebrew, Greek, Afrikaans, Finnish, Swahili, Arabic, and Esperanto.

HonbuHonbu API: Honbu is designed to help people working at the same company communicate and collaborate on projects. Because Honbu provides a secure online environment, users can safely share business information and develop new content. Honbu allows users to create and join groups specific to their projects or roles, helping keep everyone in the loop and build a company culture.

PennockPennock API: Pennock Floral is a wholesale supplier of flowers, floral containers, and other specialty items that sells exclusively to retail outlets. They have locations all along the east coast of the U.S. The Pennock API allows users to retrieve information on the availability of specific products, including their cost, quantity, and description.

ProgrammableWebSurvey Finds Developer Influence Reaches Far Beyond IT

Developers have always exercised more influence over all things IT than generally acknowledged. But now it looks like the reach of that influence is starting to extend well into business and society itself. A new survey of 1,000 software developers in the U.S. published today by Chef, providers of an open source framework for automating the management of IT, finds that 94 percent of the developers surveyed expect to be a revolutionary influence in major segments of the economy during the next five years. Additionally, 63 percent feel a talented software developer has more power to change society than a talented public speaker.

The economic influence of software developers is rising in almost direct proportion to the scope and reach of the APIs that make the applications they develop more accessible than ever. In fact, an argument could be made that there is a direct corollary between the number of integration points and the value of the application, which is essentially a variant of a Metcalfe’s Law that stipulates that the value of a network is square to the number of nodes that make up the network.

Revealed at the #ChefConf 2014 event, the Chef survey found that 91 percent of developers feel they are the most valued employees within their organizations and 86 percent of them say their skill sets are more valued today than five years ago. Not surprisingly, it follows that 69 percent of the developers surveyed described their jobs as being “recession proof.” More surprisingly, 84 percent said they are getting paid what they are worth today even though 66 percent say they expect to receive a raise in the next 12 months. In fact, 56 percent says they expect to become millionaires at some point in their lives.

Contrary to popular opinion, 97 percent of the developers surveyed say they enjoy a positive working relationship with IT operations; event though 80 percent of them says outsourcing has had a net positive impact of the quality of work produced by their companies.

Soo Choi, director of customer experience for Chef, says that the rise of APIs at the infrastructure level has clearly given developers more control over the IT environment. The degree to which developers want direct control over that environment varies. In some organizations, for example, traditional IT operations teams are acquiring development skills specifically to manage the IT infrastructure environment.

By almost and measure, developers are clearly exercising more influence than ever; especially when it comes to telling business how best to apply software. The Chef survey, for example, finds that 93 percent of them feel empowered to make suggestions to changes in business processes.

Most striking of all the survey results, however, is how content developers appear to be. The survey finds that average software developer plans to stay at their current company for nine years, which would suggest that the image of the developer as malcontent may have more to do with perception than actual reality.

ProgrammableWebMicrosoft Gives Developers Windows Phone 8.1 Code

Windows Phone 8.1 represents developers’ best chance to make some money – at least as far as Microsoft is concerned. The company released a developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1 today and hopes that code writers will get to work creating compelling apps and games for its refreshed mobile operating system.

Microsoft explains that the new OS isn’t for everyone. “The Preview program was created to give developers time to test their apps, and to validate that their apps run as expected on a real phone before an operating system update is made generally available to your customers,” said the company. This line is to be expected and is more or less the point of most developer programs. Want to try it out? There are several different ways to gain access to the OS.

Microsoft prefers app writers to officially register as a Windows Phone Developer. This carries a nominal $19 fee, but allows developers to publish apps in the WIndows Phone App Store when all is said and done. If you’re not interested in paying the fee, you can also choose to register as a developer with App Studio. This is free and lets developers take advantage of online tools to create apps that will run on their own devices. Last, device owners can choose to download the developer tools to register and unlock their phone.

As always, there are risks involved in downloading operating systems in preview form. Microsoft warns that installing Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview may void the manufacturer’s warranty, as well as the warranty of the mobile network operators. This means if the code breaks the phone, you might be left with an expensive paperweight. Further, the developer preview only includes updated code from Microsoft. Remember that the OS has essentially three layers involved: Microsoft’s, the manufacturer’s, and the carrier’s. The preview only offers Microsoft’s bits, which means it may or may not function properly with the existing on-device OEM and carrier code. Last – and this is a biggie – once a phone is updated to a new version of Windows Phone it <i>cannot<i> be reverted to an earlier build of the OS. In other words, you’ll be stuck in the developer preview until the final version of Windows Phone 8.1 is available.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Windows Phone 8.1 is the addition of Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant. Cortana will learn user behaviors over time and eventually begin to automate some tasks, such as managing travel and scheduling. Windows Phone includes a number of updated APIs, as well, which developers can put to use in new and interesting ways. Windows Phone 8.1 also introduces the idea of universal apps, which will be able to run on Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Windows 8.1. In other words, code once, and run on all Microsoft’s mobile devices.

Want more info? Microsoft offers tons of resources here.

ProgrammableWebMyDoorHandle Delivers API Access to Virtual Address Solution

MyDoorHandle allows users to create short, memorable weblinks that point to physical locations: DoorHandles. Instead of sharing physical addresses (which easily become outdated or incomplete), DoorHandles create a digital address which are easy to create and continually ensure accuracy.  MyDoorHandle has now expanded its offering to include API access to DoorHandle creation. The API will allow third party developers to incorporate MyDoorHandle’s many location based services.

Shaamiel Gabier, MyDoorHandle lead developer, explained:

“The new [offering] is about minimising the steps a user has to follow in order to create a door handle. In the old site it used to be page one, finding the location, page two, name the location, and page three, fill in whatever other details there are available to add to it….We have basically managed to streamline the functionality into one process. Before there used to be three buttons and now you are only clicking one….We’re hoping [the API] will replace contact forms with maps on the side showing where the location is.”

The API allows users to create DoorHandles. In addition, sites can store addresses and locations of customers and online orders. The functionality is targeted to enhance logistics and record keeping functionality. The API is available for both web and mobile integration. The API allows developers to access a major logistics enhancement without investing in expensive proprietary software.

The API works in a simple, 4-step process. First, capture the locations (e.g. latitude/longitude) of  a customer or order. Second, call the MyDoorHandle API to create a unique DoorHandle for the customer or order. Next, store the DoorHandle against the record of the customer or order. Finally, use MyDoorHandle’s web and mobile tools for all location based logistics and delivery requirements. To learn more, visit the developer site.


Updated: .  Michael(tm) Smith <>