Long before the internet was born, traditional content syndication involved this guy, Bobby, from NYT News Syndicate, calling up his customer at Chicago Tribune, selling a column over the phone and delivering the content via either train, post, or telegram; and later, via a fax machine. More recently, FTP, or feed formats such as RSS have been the preferred methods to deliver syndicated content; and now via Content APIs.

Office of the New York Times’ news syndicate, circa 1942

But unlike the relatively slow transition from horse to car as the preferred mode of transport, APIs appeared to be a technological shift that burst over our heads as quick as a thunderstorm, shadowing content delivery mechanisms that have been around for decades.

What Is An API?

An application programming interface (API) is a computing interface to a software component or a system, that defines how other components or systems can use it. It defines the kinds of ‘calls’ or ‘requests’ that can be made, how to make them, the data formats that should be used, the conventions to follow etc.*

In essence, an API allows different web applications to talk to each other and to display structured information correctly (e.g. a Facebook ‘feed’ being consumed on an iPhone, or live sports scores, game data and sports results being consumed within your favourite sports app). APIs are all around us (even if you don’t already know it).

APIs provide structure to information (i.e. data), so that computers can use and understand that information, the same way you use and understand a cooking recipe, or a train times schedule. An API is little more than a ‘template’.

What Is A Content API?

Until more recently, we’ve commonly used APIs to transfer ‘data’ between applications (such as those Facebook ‘status’ updates), but not ‘content’ (e.g. editorial articles, images, or video content). 

To exchange ‘content’ between applications, we need to transfer not only the data, but also the meaning of the data in the form of a ‘taxonomy’ (similar to categories), to classify and understand the content.

Using a text news story as an example, it contains not only the tags that tell an application where the headline, the byline, the date and the main body content are, but also other information that gives meaning and context to the data within the content. And that’s what makes a content API so valuable.

Why Should I Use The DISCO Content API?

Where users prefer to harness the full power (content, search and filtering) of the DISCO platform programmatically, from right within their own CMS, application, website or platform (with absolute ease), the DISCO Content API is the solution for you. 

Types Of Uses

The DISCO Content API is available for both non-commercial and commercial use.

You could be a not-for-profit, or part of a web developer ‘community’ building mobile or web applications, or creating mashups.

You could be a commercial service that wants to sell DISCO’s content within an application; or to use our content inside a paid-for application; or to access our content for media monitoring or research purposes; or to charge a subscription fee to access our content.

How Do I Use The DISCO Content API?

The DISCO Content API uses a ‘RESTful’ style and a resource-oriented architecture. Calls are made via HTTPS requests. Your request URIs should be patterned and you should always include your API key in a query string.

Is There An API Call Limit?

Yes, DISCO sets the API call/request limits depending on your use case and other requirements.

What Response Formats Does DISCO Support?

Content and data is typically returned as JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), an open standard file format and data interchange format, that uses human-readable text to store and transmit data objects consisting of attribute–value pairs and array data types. 

Getting Started With DISCO’s Content API

The easiest way to learn how to use the DISCO Content API, plus see what content and functionality is included, is to start using it. You can quickly start building complex queries and browse the results.

To get started, you will need to register a user account with DISCO; register the CMS, app, website or platform where you wish to use DISCO content; provide details on how you wish to use the content; and then request a ‘key’ to successfully authenticate against the API.

Want to learn more about DISCO? Read the full How-To series here.

*(Source for this paragraph: Wikipedia)