The Hottest API on the Internet (if we do say so ourselves)

Here at Ning, we love hooking stuff together in weird and wonderful ways, resulting in eccentric-but-useful marriages such as eBay & Google Maps, Ajax & kittens and the coffee machine & Diego’s brain. We love helping our community mix things up too; this is why we created the web services skeleton apps and take part in the whole web mashup scene. And it’s also why we’ve created the new, super-powerful Ning REST API – unleashing the raw untrammelled awesomeness of your Ning Apps to the entire internet.

If you haven’t encountered them before, web service APIs allow the use of a web app in ways beyond having to visit the site in a browser. With the Ning REST API (previously mentioned as the Atom API), you can pull content out of your App, embed it in other web sites, subscribe to it in a feed reader… and do whatever you want with it. Even better, with the latest release of the API, the flow goes both ways – you can upload content to your App with external software. (If you want to try, you can use your favorite programming language.

As you can see, we’ve used plenty of existing web services APIs at here at Ning. So when it came to our own, we had tons of good ideas to throw in, and we went with them all:

Widgets ahoy!
Want to embed Ning content in your external blog or website? No problem. Our API makes it easy to use your Apps in new and interesting ways.
It’s standards-based
As the name implies, the API is based on href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representational_State_Transfer">REST principles; HTTP like it’s meant to be. When it came to data formats, we went with the best: the
Atom syndication
format
and publishing
protocol
. (We’re planning on adding support for other formats soon too.)
Feeds are busting out all over:
Since we’re using the Atom syndication format, it means that our content comes out as feeds you can subscribe to. To create a feed, it’s just a matter of typing a URL.
Export and Import
You want to take your own backup of your App’s content? Hey, we can understand that. Our API makes it simple, and with the latest release you can also send data the other way.
Custom feeds that search, with no code
The URLs that generate feeds can contain queries that search your App’s data or the entire Ning Content Store. Want to get a feed of everything with a particular tag? Not only can you do that, there’s no code required – see our examples.
Get information about Apps, Profiles and Tags:
You can pull out all kinds of interesting metadata about your App. This page shows our favorite: a feed that lists an App’s clones.
Create, Update, Delete
As the App owner, you now have the power to do anything with your App content remotely that you can do with App code. In fact, there doesn’t even need to be any app code: want a free gigabyte of API-accessible, searchable storage for structured data? Just create an empty Ning App, and you’ve got it.
Treats for Javascript junkies
One of the formats we’ll be adding soon is JSON, which makes data-handling easier for Javascript. Can’t wait? Neither could David (our main PHP guru), so he created BadgerFish, which will turn any XML into JSON. (It’s such a good idea, people are already translating it to other languages)
Lots of demos and docs
Here are the demos. Need the specs? We have all the documentation you might want.

Add it all up, and you have a strong contender for the most powerful and flexible API on the web, and it’s just waiting for you to dive in and experiment. No wonder we call it a Playground!

About the Author:

alexei – who has written posts on Ning's Official Blog on Social Networking Sites.