Want to know more about how an OData standards-based API can help your lab?
For a while now we have been lauding the benefits of an OData (Open Data Protocol) compliant API. In this case an API is an Application Programming Interface, not an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient. (We know both researchers and software engineers read our blog!)
The Wikipedia definition of an API is quite clear. “In computer programming, an application programming interface (API) is a set of subroutine definitions, protocols, and tools for building application software. In general terms, it’s a set of clearly defined methods of communication between various software components. A good API makes it easier to develop a computer program by providing all the building blocks, which are then put together by the programmer.”
According to Kin Lane at API Evangelist, “APIs are touching almost every aspect of our increasingly digital lives, providing access to the bits and bytes that make our personal and professional worlds work.” That sounds fantastic, but the number of APIs available to the public is overwhelming and constantly growing. In fact, the ProgrammableWeb allows you to search over 16,000 APIs. There is no reason to connect to so many APIs, but sharing data with even a handful of them means your programmers will need to learn how to work with each one and maintain the connections. As your connections increase, so will the workload on your programmers, and the APIs which were supposed to make your life easier can end up making it more difficult…
Simplifying Your Integration Approach Using Standards-Based APIs
We discussed the OData standard for APIs in a previous blog post, Using OData Compliant APIs for Better Integration, where we highlighted how standards-based APIs can help you achieve your interoperability goals. According to OData.org, “These REST-based standards simplify the querying and sharing of data across applications for re-use in the enterprise, cloud, and mobile devices. With OData, information can be accessed from a variety of sources including relational databases, file systems, content management systems, and traditional web sites.”
As described in What is OData? REST Easy with Our Quick Guide, “OData…is built on technologies like HTTP, ATOM/XML and JSON. It is more flexible than other REST-based web services and provides a uniform way to describe the data and the data model for easy interoperability between data sources, applications, services and clients.” The article goes on to say OData removes the barriers to serious application development by enabling simple communication. “What OData does is take this interconnected ecosystem of data from all these disparate sources and builds upon existing web standards to facilitate simple, high caliber data connectivity. These standards enable greater efficiency than ever before in everything from custom applications, to cloud storage, to content management.”
Benefits of an OData API to Life Sciences & Other Scientific Organizations
So what does this mean for you? Moving to an OData API can increase efficiency and free programmers to work on new projects – rather than having to learn multiple one-off APIs and maintain integrations between them.
There are many tools that natively support consuming data from an OData data producer, such as integration service buses Mulesoft, Boomi, and Informatica. Developers and users of OData APIs can connect with other tools that ‘speak’ OData, such as Tableau and biologics visualization tools. Bench scientists can get their data via ‘live’ worksheets with the Excel (PowerQuery plugin). By using an OData producer (like Thermo Fisher™ Platform for Science™ software), the scientist can put in an OData query URL and it will become a worksheet.