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I’ve been experimenting with data APIs for a couple of years now. I’m not a professional developer but it’s a lot of fun to get stuck in to see what cool content and tools can be produced.
Lately I’ve been experimenting with kimono which promises to turn websites into structured APIs from your browser in seconds.
It aims to removes the intimidating technical boundaries previously needed to develop your own API.
Sound interesting? I certainly think so!
If you’re new to the concept of APIs then I’d recommend reading this guide from Zapier.
Using kimono I’m going to take you through creating your own API which will gather the price of a PlayStation 4 from the following retailers:
Once developed you could use this API to:
- Add your own competitor price comparison widget to individual product pages if price is your strong point (business).
- Get product price email alerts (consumer or business).
The good news is that kimono already has quite a few of these tools built in so you’ll be able to do something useful with the data pretty quickly.
Creating the feed (step by step guide)
- Create a free kimono account (it’s currently in beta so will remain free for the time being). Drag the ‘kimonify’ icon to your browser bookmarks bar. The page also contains an interactive tutorial if you’d like more information.
- We’ll now need to visit the individual product pages of the retailers mentioned earlier to capture the data to be captured by the API. Let’s start with Argos. While you’re on this page click the newly created ‘kimonify’ bookmark. This will open the kimono bar at the top of the web page.
- Hover over elements of the product page and they’ll be surrounded by a yellow box. Select the price text. The yellow box will remain static around this element and indicates what data will be extracted from the page.
- Review the page and click on the small cross of any unwanted yellow boxes. We only want the product price for this example.
Click on the ‘Data Model View’ on the right hand side of the kimono bar.
Rename the selected ‘collection1’ to ‘price’. Please ensure the ‘price’ name is kept the same when repeating the process for other retailers. Rename ‘property1’ to the name of the retailer (Argos in this case).
Click ‘Done’ on the right hand side of the kimono bar. Give your API a name and set the crawl rate (the frequency at which the API will capture the data from the page). This ranges from real time to monthly. Keep the rate consistent across all the APIs for this job.
- Click ‘Create API’ to finish. Repeat the process for the remaining retailers.
We’ve now got the product price collection APIs in place for each of the retailers. Using a new feature of kimono we’re going to combine these into one super, all ruling API.
- Within your kimono account click on ‘Combine APIs’ link in sub navigation beneath your name.
- Give this new API a name. I’ve called it ‘Playstation 4 Price Comparison’.
- Tick the three APIs that you have recently created and click ‘Next’
The API has now been created. You can now develop something using the endpoint directly. The screenshot below is an example of the JSON feed:
For non-developers you could also create content using the newly created API with one of their in-built solutions. We’ll go through these below.
- Email alerts can be set up to send you an alert whenever the data in your API updates (dependent on your entered update frequency).
- Creating a KimonoApp allows you to display your data in a basic app for your phone.
- A KimonoBlock is a customisable data widget which can be embedded on a web page. This option is ideal as a quick price comparison widget for product pages.
- Creating a Webhook is slightly more advanced. Once the data in your API changes you can choose to post it to a custom file on your server from which you could save it to a database for example.
There are certainly other similar tools which are worth a look. Import.io is one such example (yet to try personally).
There’s significant potential in APIs for research, content development and improving user experiences. Tools such as the ones mentioned are opening this up to a wider audience. Use this new found power wisely!