The Guardian launches open API for all content – but they still control the ads

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The Guardian newspaper in the UK has today launched its open API which will carry all the content the newspaper produces in print and online. That’s over a million articles which go back to 1999. The “Open Platform” will allow allow partners to reuse Guardian.co.uk content and data for free, in a clear move to try and make the The Guardian an all pervasive part of the Web [Update: We predicted this in March 2007]. In contrast with many newspaper groups, The Guardian is effectively letting control of its content go in order to maximise its reach – and therefore the number of eyeballs that see its brand/content – across the Web. It helps that the paper is owned and run by a charitable trust which does not have shareholders who would normally have a heart attack at such a move. The payback is that apps developers are going to end up building an ad network for The Guardian as a result.

The Open Platform launches with two services, both of which carry advertising. Web developers will use the API to build applications and services using Guardian content. And a Data Store will “contain datasets curated by Guardian editors and open for others to use.”

However the API does not prevent developers from running “commercial applications” using the API – but I’d read the fine detail first. They do say: “You can display your own ads and keep your own revenue. We will require that you join our ad network in the future.”

Emily Bell, the Guardian News & Media director of digital content, thinks the move will allow Guardian content “to be woven into the fabric of the internet”. And there’s a hell of a lot of it. The APIs feature ‘full fat’ feeds and other content including video, audio and photo galleries. You can combine free text search and combine tags to create feeds based on XML, JSON and Atom. API infrastructure company Mashery also helped build the platform.

The service is free but, Matt McAlister, head of the Guardian Developer Network, said, it is limited to 5000 queries a day, and the payback is that apps developers help build the advertising network, which is still in beta.

Some early examples include Zemanta’s Guardian topic research demo. It’s a simple app that searches the vast database of Guardian articles via its API and then uses Zemanta’s API to get links to related concepts.

There is also Content Tagger, an application to provide user-generated tagging on guardian.co.uk content. ApiMaps.org, built by Stamen Design, is designed to crowdsource geodata about Guardian articles. Cass Sculpture Foundation is using the Open Platform to insert lists of articles from the Guardian about its sculptors into their biography and home pages.

You can register for the API here. Here is what they say about the API:

The Open Platform currently includes two products, the Content API and the Data Store:

1. The Content API is a mechanism for getting Guardian content. You can query our content database for articles and get them back in formats that are geared toward integration with other internet applications.

The Content API is a free service. We have some limits and restrictions detailed in our terms and conditions, but we hope that you will use our service for whatever needs you have, including commercial applications.

2. The Data Store is a collection of important and high quality data sets curated by Guardian journalists. You can find useful data here, download it, and integrate it with other internet applications.

The Data Store has a range of different uses for different types of partners. We will include relevant terms and conditions along with each service.

Our aim is to make the Guardian Open Platform a useful environment for anyone who creates for the internet. We will offer more services in the future such as an ad network and an application platform.

This initial release is a beta trial that will help us identify the ways our partners want to work with us. Access will be granted on a limited basis.

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