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REST, Silverlight, and the New York Times

by Jonathan Allen on May 12, 2009 |

In a effort to remain relevant in the increasingly difficult news industry, the New York Times has built a REST-based API through the Times Developer Network. Though still in public beta, there is already a rather extensive list of available APIs. Most APIs return both XML and JSON and are very well documented. Other REST providers would do well to emulate their standards.

  • Article Search API: Search Times articles from 1981 to today, retrieving headlines, abstracts and links to associated multimedia.
  • Best Sellers API: Get data from all New York Times best-seller lists, including rank history for specific best sellers.
  • Campaign Finance API: Get presidential campaign contribution and expenditure data based on United States Federal Election Commission filings.
  • Community API: Get comments by NYTimes.com users.
  • Congress API: Get U.S. Congressional vote data, including information about specific House and Senate members.
  • Movie Reviews API: Get links to reviews and NYT Critics' Picks, and search movie reviews by keyword.
  • New York State Legislature API: Get member and committee information for the New York State Senate and Assembly.
  • Real Estate API: Get aggregate data for real estate listings and sales in New York City.
  • Times Newswire API: Get links and metadata for Times articles in an up-to-the-minute stream.
  • TimesPeople API: Get TimesPeople profile and activity data.
  • TimesTags API: Get standardized terms that match your search query, and filter by Times dictionaries.

Currently the APIs are free, but there are numerous restrictions on the APIs. For example, only the Campaign Finance, Congress, and NY State Legislature APIs are licensed for commercial use. All other APIs are strictly limited to non-commercial, non-competing use. And of course there is no guarantee that fees won’t be charged in the future, presumably once they figure out how to make money off the thing.

In order to make it easier for developers to use these APIs, Microsoft and the New York Times are jointly offering the New York Times Silverlight Kit. As the name implies, this toolkit is heavily focused on promoting Silverlight and other Microsoft technologies. This are reflected in the project goals.

  • Make it easy for designers and developers to use the APIs with little to no coding: all XAML
  • Include Design-Time sample data to facilitate crafting experiences in Expression Blend and Visual Studio
  • Use the MVVM Design Pattern to separate components for test-ability and data binding.

Despite being tagged with the Microsoft Permissive License, the source code isn’t actually available at this time. Only the DLL and related debug symbols are in the 1.0.1 release.

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New York Times Silverlight Kit Now Open Source by Michael Scherotter

We just published the New York Times Silverlight Kit with source code, unit tests, and demo code under the MS-PL license. It just took a while to get everything wrapped up and ready.

Re: New York Times Silverlight Kit Now Open Source by Paul Hunter

If the NY Times want's "to remain relevant in the increasingly difficult news industry" they should climb out of the ditch on the left-side of the political road and move to the center (is that to much to ask?) or maybe just the the left shoulder.

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