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Treasure Trove


Building simple tools with APIs

Kathy Reid BA/BSc MBA

President, Linux Australia

Licence - CC BY SA

@KathyReid on GitHub, Twitter, IRC, Slack etc

Linux Australia

President, Linux Australia

Session outline

Some technical content, but not very techie

Recap of how HTTP protocol works

What ReST is and how it works

How APIs work and how to use them to build tools

Treasure! Yarr!

Learning objectives

Understand the basics of the HTTP protocol

Understand the concept of ReST

Understand key terminology surrounding APIs

Understand key steps to planning and developing simple tools based on APIs

Have a better understanding of where to go next for help on your API journey

What tools are you thinking of building?

Recap of how HTTP works

What's a client and what's a server?

The request and response life cycle

Let's try it!!!!!!111!!!!

Tin Cans and String

Attribution: Local Call via Wes Peck on Flickr.

Representational State Transfer (ReSTful)

Everything is a resource

We can take actions on resources, if we are authorised to do so

We can act on a single resource without impacting the overall system

Verb Objective Usage
GET retrieve data from resource links
POST create new items in resource forms
PUT replace existing items in resource forms
PATCH update existing items in resource forms
DELETE delete existing items in resource forms

More on ReST

Is a type of architecture

Way of abstracting data

Hides the underlying complexity of the system

Way of leveraging multiple data sets for new and useful tools

Building tools on top of existing platfroms - ie Twitter, Xero etc

API keys

Used to identify the source of an API request

Can be paid or free

Used to provide different levels of access

Used to do rate limiting

Rate Limiting

A method of restricting the volume of API requests that are able to be sent

Mechanism to stop the server from being overloaded

Useful tools

Postman -

Insomnia -

Hurlit -

HTTP Requester

What problem are you trying to solve?

Before you start building your tool, it's a good idea to have a think about what problem you're trying to solve. There's some good techniques to approach this - such as user stories, wireframing, or something as simple as sketching out the flow of how you want tool to work.

Common formats for sending requests to APIs

Understanding data structures

Often you'll need to use more than one API to build your tool - different APIs return data in different ways - some return XML, some return JSON, so you need to learn skills in dealing with both of these data types.


      "id:": 1482810384,
      "name": "Tim Tam",
      "species": "canine",
      "breed": "Pembroke Welsh Corgi",
      "dob": "15 March 2014",
      "faveFood": "sardines",
      "faveWord": "walkies",
      "offspring": null


Treasure Hunt!

Deakin University opened in Geelong in the 1970s. Who was the first Vice Chancellor? What was their full name? What was their discipline? What was unusual about their approach to this discipline?

Breaking down the query to the TROVE API AND deakin university&zone=newspaper&l-decade=197&encoding=json&key=vitbcjb0reu355og&sortby=relevance

Next Steps

You will need some basic coding skills, or to partner with someone who has developer skills

Try a hackathon like GovHack, or run your own hackathon

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