This week we announced that we've begun development on our API for Newscoop, a CMS that helps media organisations make better online publications. Of course online doesn't just mean the web browser now - news organisations need dedicated apps for all devices - mobile, tablet and so on - but also apps that do different things and engage readers in different ways.
#newsbeta is our initiative to try and get journalists and coders working together to build the next generation of media tools. One of the things we'll be doing this summer is setting challenges and polls to try and find out what news organisations really need from the technology in their newsrooms. This information will not only influence the development of our own tools and APIs, but also be available for everyone to share and build better tools with.
So, here's your starter question for ten. We'd like to hear from readers of news sites, and of course journalists working on news and developers building news sites. (Read on below for more information about the Newscoop API itself!)
Let us know more about this in the comments below! Newscoop's Gimme API will be for people wanting to build third party applications. Here's a little more on the thinking behind it from Holman Romero, lead Newscoop developer.
Q. Why an API for Newscoop?
A. Simple, there are users asking for this! People want to build third party applications to display content served by Newscoop. Currently the only way to do it (using templates) is less than ideal! That's why we're asking for your help to specify what it should do. (Oh, and it's called the Gimme API, which will make Newscoop developers happy!)
Q. What could users do with the API?
A. Right now, pretty much only fetching content, essentially Newscoop articles, organised via Featured Article Lists, Sections and Topics. Users' data could be served as well (like email addresses or biographical information). In the next stages we'd add interactivity, the ability to comment and so on.
Q. Why no write operations via the API now?
A. Because read-only is what's planned for the first version. Write services will come after!
Q. I can see only a few services provided by Gimme API, why so simple?
A. Yes, that's true, and it's on purpose. We don't want to create a bunch of services that we don't really know whether users will use or not. We start off with the basics and scale up (only if required). Another important reason for this is Superdesk...
Q. So, does this have something to do with Superdesk and the REST API framework?
A. No. Superdesk is in a different stage of development at this point. This is a completely different and separate thing, built specifically for current Newscoop users. We don't want to build an all-inclusive API because it would take much more time, and because at some point Superdesk will start providing the same functionality. We'll be announcing the Superdesk framework and APIs soon!
Q. When there is a request, is the article sent as a complete templated web page, in NewsML, or some other format?
A. The initial plan is to support json and some other formats like atom or xml maybe (not yet decided!). NewsML is not in the plan because for this purpose 3rd party developers would have to learn NewsML in order to parse the responses and fetch the data, and NewsML is complex. NewsML works better for exchanging content between Newscoop intances for example, or between Newscoop and Superdesk. We will add NewsML support to this API when we get to the point where we need it.
Q. I have an important question and it is just not here, what can I do?
A. We will be glad to answer any question you have. Post it in the comments below, the forums or over on the Gimme API wiki documentation!