Providing A Web Scraping Toolkit On Github To Jumpstart The API Conversation At The University of Toronto
30 Jul 2015
I found a pretty cool Github repository during my latest review of my university API research, with a mission "to provide a collection of RESTful web APIs that can allow developers to create applications or services that utilize public data from the University of Toronto."
I am a big fan of jump-starting API efforts on campus in this way, something I did to help fuel the API discussion at University of Oklahoma. Which is a topic I will be talking more about in the near future as these conversations continue play out. In my opinion, many campuses are just not ready for APIs, and to get things rolling, it will may often take outside influences.
This API project I found, that is dedicated to the University of Toronto is interesting because they identify three target APIs that are being worked on.
They are also building their own scraping module, which is available in the repository, complete with a list of target sources, where they will be scraping valuable data for inclusion in the course, building, and food API. I find the project repository is very focused, informative, and simple--well done.
I would call this a minimum viable blueprint for API operations on any campus, and is something that should be forked, and cleansed of University of Toronto information, replaced with generalized how-to instructions--complete with a scraping tool. Anyone involved with a university should be able to set a project like this in motion, by forking, and following a simple blueprint.
With all the work available on Github, it also means anyone else can potentially get involved and contribute, and if a single project gets abandoned, someone else could potentially pick it up. Most importantly, when a university is actually ready to legitimize the API efforts, they can also fork, and build on top of any work that has been already accomplished.
While this approach to doing APIs at the higher educational level may not be optimal, sometimes its all we have to stimulate the API discussion on campus, something that we just can't wait for--it needs to be set in motion as soon as possible..