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Twelve APIs every programmer should know about

Emerging and under-the-radar APIs add sizzle to your website, from geographical data to financial insights to content analysis

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Was it just yesterday that the API was going to take over the Internet and turn every site into an endless remix of data from hundreds of freely available data stores? The world is a bit more mature now. The APIs are still proliferating, but they're not wide open and ready for anyone. Most of the better tools are following the lead of Google and imposing a fee on serious usage. Experimenting is usually free, but making more than a smattering of calls to the API requires an account and a commitment to pay.

Here's a collection of 12 APIs that caught our attention. They're modern tools for adding a little oomph or pizzazz to your site.


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GeoNames

Where in the world is Carmen San Diego? Or just plain San Diego? GeoNames turns strings of characters into latitudes and longitudes. The database includes both geographic names and political entities. Looking for "San Diego," for instance, returns the cities in California, Guatamala, and Mexico as well as lakes like Laguna San Diego. In fact, there are 7,159 entries for San Diego. The free service is limited to 2,000 queries per hour. Premium services offering better availability and a service-level agreement begin at 40 euros.


  • GeoNames
  • FlightStats
  • FollowTheMoney
  • USA.gov and Gov.uk
  • StockTwits
  • Yahoo Content Analysis
  • Moodstocks
  • MusixMatch
  • OpenStreetMap
  • Panoramio
  • 3D Geo Stats
  • New York Public Library


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