Today we're announcing the release of the NewsCloud Web Service and APIs as part of our effort to make NewsCloud into a fully open platform for media distribution. Our goal is to expand the potential for citizen journalism by helping developers embrace and extend our work. The NewsCloud web services will allow other community developers to easily interact and expand the stories and features at NewsCloud.com. We hope the result will be a variety of cool mashups, customized Web sites with media content and a better NewsCloud.
NewsCloud's Web Services consist of more than 50 interfaces (APIs) for interacting with our Web site. Nearly everything you can do as a user on the NewsCloud site can be done via our APIs from your own Web site. If you want to, you can even create your own news site - or design your own front page.
We've tried to make it easy for Web developers to make use of our APIs with a simple PHP class. By using our NewsCloud PHP class with your code, interacting with data from our site becomes as easy as manipulating any PHP array data.
All of our APIs are available via REST as described in our documentation, so you don't have to use PHP to get in on the fun. If there are developers who would like to build code libraries for other platforms or improved examples, please email us.
For users who just want to use our news headlines without the API, we've provided code examples of using the Magpie RSS parser to grab stories from any of our site RSS feeds.
The NewsCloud PHP class and example code can be downloaded here. Use of the NewsCloud PHP class requires PEAR be installed on your server, however, you could replace PEAR with another library for making HTTP requests at your preference.
How can you get started?
Getting started is easy:
- Visit our NewsCloud Web Services Overview
- Browse our documentation
- Get your API key (registration required)
- Download our example code and start customizing!
Then, when you've had time to work with our example code, please share your improvements with us. If you have requests for us to expand our API capabilities, please let us know. You can either join the discussions and post suggestions in our experimental Google Group Web Services community - or just email us.
You can also contribute funds to support our site development - click on the tip jar to the upper left if you'd like to help.
NewsCloud is small startup with just one full time person, so we're monitoring our API usage tightly and carefully limiting volume on sensitive APIs to prevent abuse. Once you've tried out our Web services, just let us know if you want us to increase your limits for your application. If you have a valid use, we'll do our best to accomodate you. Email us here.
We may also modify the API without notice. However, if you use our PHP class as an abstraction layer, you're less likely to run into compatibility problems. We will post notifications of changes and enhancements to the API and example code here on the blog. You can subscribe to our blog feed here.
Right now, there is no cost to use our APIs but we reserve the right to revisit this issue to accomodate load and bandwidth issues, as well as the long term sustainability of our currently pro-bono organization.
NewsCloud was founded in 2005 by Jeff Reifman to create an open community to address the problems with consolidation of corporate media and censorship. Originally named CommonTimes, the site was renamed in 2006 as NewsCloud.com. NewsCloud evolved from CommonBits and CommonTunes - earlier experiments in online media distribution communities.
Jeff's experience with online media began in 1995 with MSN News and then MSNBC.com. Since leaving Microsoft, Jeff is a happy Mac user and has written extensively about his former employer. You can follow Jeff's blog at Idealog.us.