By Renae Rodgers
Have you heard the news?! The IPUMS Extract API now supports microdata! For users who have been clamoring for this feature for some time, feel free to skip to the final section for resources to get started. For our users who haven’t been awaiting this announcement with bated breath, and who may be saying to themselves, “ok…great…but…”
This blog post will give a brief introduction to APIs, give some examples of ways to use the IPUMS Extract API in your workflow, and share some more in-depth resources.
What is an API?
API stands for Application Programming Interface. An API is an intermediate layer between a user and a server that allows the user to interact programmatically with another program or a service. First, the user’s program talks to the API – this is known as making an API call or a request. The API, in turn, talks to the server, translating the user’s request into something the server can understand. The server returns the requested information to the API, and the API then returns that information to the user. For example, Google Maps has an API that allows developers to request and retrieve information from Google Maps from within their applications, without needing to go through a web interface.
At this point you may be thinking, “great, now I have a general idea of what an API is, but I am not a software developer so… thanks anyway.”
The IPUMS Extract API opens up many possibilities for easing collaboration, and creating efficient workflows with only a few simple lines of code. Please read on!