15 APIs every developer should know

From AI and AR to transportation and telephony, these web APIs open up all kinds of intriguing possibilities to developers

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Immutable Azure Blob storage

One of the biggest hidden problems in the computer is that viruses, hackers, and others with malice aforethought can often find a way to change our data. This shouldn’t be a surprise because the hardware teams always wanted to make it easy to change digital data. They’ve even competed to see which disk drive or RAM chip would change data the fastest.

But what if you want to use that digital file to solve a crime or audit some financial books? Oops. We would like to believe that our digital files offer proof for legal and financial disputes, but that only works if we can trust those files, and by ex. Unfortunately, the word “digital” means both “easy to edit” and “easy to fake.”

This is why Microsoft created the “immutable blob storage API,” a system that doesn’t have the ability to change the data. Blobs can be created and read, but not modified or deleted. So once a file is stored, it should stay exactly the same. Is it perfect? Nothing is. But Microsoft has conveniently forgotten to include the ability to UPDATE files, in essence the easiest vector for data to change. That is something that will make auditors, detectives, and pack rats everywhere sleep a bit easier.

There are also clever additions for automatically determining the length of time data will be retained. Cleaning house becomes a bit simpler. 

Coinbase

The world of Bitcoin and other altcoins is still a mysterious swamp for many managers, a strange and exotic world filled with dangerous tiger traps and unimaginable wealth. Should your company set up an expedition to the newest frontier of the Internet? There is no right answer. Bitcoins may be worth billions by the time you wade in or they might be worth nothing.

Coinbase continues to be one of the best funded and supported platforms for explorating this space. It enjoys generous financial backing from the best venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. This isn’t any guarantee, of course, but it’s better than trusting your financial future to some anonymous corner of the dark web.

If you need to buy, sell, store or just research Bitcoin, Ethereum and a few more major tokens, Coinbase’s API lets you integrate their wallets with your stack. If you want to go a bit deeper, you can explore the trading environment with Coinbase Pro, a digital currency exchange formerly known as GDAX, or try wallet-to-wallet trading using the Paradex relay platform.

BlazingText

While photos and video are dominating the Internet, much of it continues to be letters and words. Amazon SageMaker’s BlazingText algorithm helps make sense of words by marking up the text with data describing how the word has been used before. You put in raw text and get back a vector of semantic meaning and entity classification that you can use for sentiment analysis. If you want more computational power, the algorithms can run faster on multi-core machines and GPUs.

Amatino

Everyone likes to believe that tracking the flow of money, something often called “accounting,” is just a bunch of grade school arithmetic, but any developer who takes on the job quickly learns just how complex the task can be. Amatino is a startup offering an API that will handle many of the most important chores for you so you can concentrate on the bigger, grander ideas that will, cross-your-fingers, bring in enough revenue so you’ve got something to count. In other words, Amatino offers industry standard “double-entry accounting” as an on-demand service. Note that it’s still in alpha stages so not every function is guaranteed yet.

OpenWeatherMap

We can control many parts of life but not the most powerful forces of nature. All we can do is open up the weather forecast and watch the storms roll in. You can now automate much more of this watching with OpenWeatherMap, which offers different APIs for current and historical data for more than 200,000 locations. There’s information on the basics like temperature and wind and now the company is beta testing some data fields with UV data and air pollution.

These APIs will be a help to any of the platforms supporting jobs that depend upon the weather. That means farming, construction, sports, Woodstock-like festivals, and any other event that takes place outside.

Uber and Lyft

Anyone who lived through the last century must remember that the ultimate gesture rich people would make would be to “send a limo.” Nothing said that you’ve arrived to a land with elevated status than some suit-wearing limo driver holding a sign with your name on it.

Uber and Lyft now have APIs that let your software make such a grand gesture automatically. Both Uber and Lyft let you track available cars and make sure that one shows up for your user. There are also deeper APIs that help businesses track receipts and organize all of their users’ data. The drivers probably won’t be as smartly dressed as they were in the ’80s movies about Wall Street, but you’ll get where you want to go.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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