Today we released a brand spanking new web site for library coders. It has some cool features including a new API Explorer that will make it a lot easier for software developers to understand and use our application program interfaces (APIs). But seen from a broader perspective, this is just another way station on a journey we began some years ago to enable our member libraries to have full machine access to our services.
When I joined OCLC in May 2007, I immediately began collaborating with my colleagues in charge of these efforts, as I knew many library developers and had been active in the Code4Lib community. As a part of this effort, we flew in some well-known library coders to our headquarters in Dublin, OH, to pick their brains about the kinds of things they would like to see us do, which helped us to form a strategy for ongoing engagement.
From there we hired Karen Coombs, a well-known library coder from the University of Houston, to lead our engagement efforts. Under Karen’s leadership we engaged with the community in a series of events we began calling hackathons, although we soon changed to calling them “mashathons” in response to the pejorative nature the term “hack” had in Europe. In those events we brought together library developers to spend a day or two of intense learning and open development. The output of those events began populating our Gallery of applications and code libraries.
Karen also dug into the difficult, but very necessary, work to more thoroughly and consistently document our APIs. Her yeoman work in this regard helped to provide a more consistent and easier to understand and use set of documentation from which we continue to build upon and improve.
When Karen was moved into another area of work within OCLC to better use her awesome coding ability, Shelley Hostetler was hired to carry on this important work.
In this latest web site release I think you will find it even easier to understand and navigate. One essential difference is it is much easier to get started since we have better integrated information about, and access to, key requesting and management when those are required (some services do not require a key).
Although this new site offers a great deal to developers who want to know how to use our growing array of web services, we recognize it is but another step along the road to developer nirvana. So check it out and let us know how we can continue to improve. As always, we’re listening!
Roy Tennant works on projects related to improving the technological infrastructure of libraries, museums, and archives.