Several months ago I became very interested in consuming XML API’s slash Web Services. At the time I didn’t have much experience with them so I thought it might be fun to give it a whirl.
For the non-programmer an XML API is an interface that allows a person to request data in XML format from an entity, such as YouTube, Flickr, Digg, etc… The HTTP request is sent the same way your browser requests a web page. So if you wanted to retrieve the three most recent stories from the Apple topic on Digg.com you would send a request to then parse out the XML data in the response to my web page. You can click on the link above in your browser to view the XML that is returned.
I shopped around and found the YouTube API to be rather developer friendly. I became pretty obsessed when writing the code to parse the data. I spent several nights programming until 2 am to get it to where is is today. But after about 2 weeks of work, mostly during my lunch hour and after work, I was done.
Now, if you go to http://www.nbirkes.com/YouTube/ you can search for videos, browse video categories, view comments and user profiles. For the most part if you can find it on YouTube you can find it on my site courtesy of the YouTube API.
I designed the site as best I could so that googlebot would index as much as possible. Because of this Google has currently indexed about 165,000 pages of my site.
Since being indexed so heavily my traffic has gone from zero to around 600 unique visitors per day.
In the future I plan to do a mashup with Flickr and other API’s so that when you do a search on my site you will see not only videos but photos, news and articles.
If you are a developer I would strongly encourage you to look deeper into XML API’s