Data Source Handbook
A Guide to Public Data
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: January 2011
Pages: 46

If you're a developer looking to supplement your own data tools and services, this concise ebook covers the most useful sources of public data available today. You'll find useful information on APIs that offer broad coverage, tie their data to the outside world, and are either accessible online or feature downloadable bulk data. You'll also find code and helpful links.

This guide organizes APIs by the subjects they cover—such as websites, people, or places—so you can quickly locate the best resources for augmenting the data you handle in your own service. Categories include:

  • Website tools such as WHOIS, bit.ly, and Compete
  • Services that use email addresses as search terms, including Github
  • Finding information from just a name, with APIs such as WhitePages
  • Services, such as Klout, for locating people with Facebook and Twitter accounts
  • Search APIs, including BOSS and Wikipedia
  • Geographical data sources, including SimpleGeo and U.S. Census
  • Company information APIs, such as CrunchBase and ZoomInfo
  • APIs that list IP addresses, such as MaxMind
  • Services that list books, films, music, and products
Table of Contents
Product Details
About the Author
Recommended for You
Customer Reviews

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3.9

(based on 8 reviews)

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100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Concise (8)
  • Accurate (6)
  • Easy to understand (4)
  • Helpful examples (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Intermediate (8)
    • Expert (4)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Developer (6)

    Reviewed by 8 customers

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    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    API Handbook

    By The Professional Heretic

    from Independence, MO

    About Me Designer, Developer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Accurate
    • Concise
    • Full of Info

    Cons

    • Could be Dated

    Best Uses

    • Expert
    • Intermediate

    Data Source Handbook by Pete Warden, a former Apple engineer and the founder of OpenHeatMap is a relatively slim book which covers many APIs for various Web2.0 sites such as Google, GitHub, Delicious, and bit.ly.

    This slim book is exactly what the title implies, it is a book about the various open APIs for modern websites with some information about how to use those APIs when you are programming mashups or other sites which can use them. Overall, the book is densely packed with good information. I would always suggest following up with the links listed to ensure the APIs and their uses are still consistent with what is listed in the book, but I haven't found any errors yet.

    The curiosity for me with this book is why it is in print form. To me, this would be an excellent website which could hyperlink to the various APIs and would have given Mr. Warden a chance to include either basic tutorials to demonstrate his ideas, or give links to basic tuts which could further elaborate the subject.

    Do not mistake that criticism, I have found in my own work these days, I have been referring back to it to where I can use many of these APIs for other uses and he does a good job with different suggestions on what you can do if you want to play around and explore.

    I'd say if you are going to write a lot of mashups or want to extract a ton of data from sites, this is a good reference book which will help do just exactly that.

    Again the book is Data Source Handbook and can be ordered in print or e-book form by following the title link…

     
    4.0

    Public Data Sources on the web

    By Rob

    from Brisbane, Australia

    About Me Developer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Concise
    • Easy to understand

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Intermediate

      This is a short eye opening book on the data and apis that are freely available on the web.

      It gives a good quick introduction to what's out there, helping to feed the ideas on kind of data is easily accessible. This kind of information may be easily available at google, but it's well worth the price to have it easily accessible in one spot for easy reference.

      With an increasingly social and mashupable web, being able to pull in data from a wide range of sources is essential. The Data Source Handbook provides a good starting point for getting some of the public data off the web.

      (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      3.0

      A list of API

      By David

      from France

      About Me Developer, Sys Admin

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Accurate
      • Concise
      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Intermediate

        This book is a great list of API on various themes to access data on the web. Each API is provided with a description and an example of query/response.
        Unfortunately, some themes are only coverded with data from the US.

         
        4.0

        A Concise and Handy Cookbook

        By Shawn Day

        from Dublin, Ireland

        About Me Educator

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Concise
        • Helpful examples

        Cons

        • Only the Main Players

        Best Uses

        • Intermediate
        • Novice

        The Data Source Handbook by Pete Warden provides a concise and handy guide to some of the main sources of public data accessible on the web today. It's a very short book of 40 pages. This in itself does not stand against the book. These sources are rapidly changing and compiling and committing an exhaustive survey to a printed volume would damn it to almost instant obsolescence. It would also prevent any treatment of individual datasources in any useful detail. As it is, Warden is able to pick a select few and identify strengths and available APIs in a useful fashion.
        Warden organises the type of sources into logical categories and identifies some key sources for each:

        Websites
        People
        Search terms
        Locations
        Companies
        IP Addresses
        Books, films, movies, music and products

        He selects the key open providers of data in these areas and systematically shows how to access the information along with simple programmatic instructions. In a volume of such limited length you would not expect to find extensive instructions or discussion - and you won't. What you have is a very concise survey identifying the key players and giving a nutshell indication of what you can use the datasources for.
        This is a useful and quick reference for anyone routinely accessing, compiling, aggregating or augmenting their own datasets. Although very few of the sources identified would be new to most people in the data analysis space, this does provide a useful compilation and also handy concise reminder of how one might augment a limited dataset quickly in an automated fashion.
        This is an easily accessible volume, well organized and with the only major failing that it will be become dated in a published form. However, as an eBook it is ideal and I would recommend it to anyone new to the area of adata visualisation looking for some great sample data to access, or to the more seasoned data traveller looking to keep their familiarity with the wide variety of available data current.

         
        4.0

        Short but useful!

        By Dozz

        from Sydney, Australia

        About Me Developer

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Concise
        • Easy to understand

        Cons

        • Not comprehensive enough

        Best Uses

        • Expert
        • Intermediate

        A concise reference 'cookbook' guide for developers who want to integrate 'free' public data into their website or application, Pete Warden provides a guide to the APIs. The organisation of the book is quite logical, based on the subject of data you want to work with, such as websites, services, information on names of people, search APIs, and so on.

        It's useful, perhaps not a book you would refer to constantly but a good source of reference for those who rely on external information to enrich their existing solution. The book is quite short and perhaps could do with a bit more in terms of other third party APIs, and a lot of the APIs are only useful for the U.S, but other than that, I would rate this book quite well. I did enjoy the author talking about whats good and not so good about using each of the APIs, which is a time-saver.

        (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        One word: toolbox

        By Antonis Ventouris

        from Athens, Greece

        About Me Marketer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Concise
        • Well-written

        Cons

        • Difficult to understand
        • Short

        Best Uses

        • Expert
        • Intermediate

        There's a simple word describing this book: toolbox. The Data Source Handbook is a great source of free APIs for a great number of different applications - with only one drawback: size.

        The book starts by offering a simple categorization, that helps the reader find his way through the 57 different sources. Some of these can prove extremely useful (such as Flickr and Delicious), while the author is honest in mentioning specific drawbacks that some of the sources have. The links in the book are also a welcome addition (although I don't really know if it could work well in any other way).

        However, this book is definitely not for people with no programming skills. In my case (I have limited programming skills) it was a bit hard to get used to the book. Adding to this, the main drawback of this book is that it's short, but this is normal, as it is not meant to include full descriptions.

        Overall, this is a great toolbox for developers wishing to enhance their services. I enjoyed experimenting while reading the book (and learning as well, in order to improve my programming skills) and I'll definitely keep on searching for related titles.

         
        4.0

        Real data on the web that can be used

        By Zalakain

        from Iruña, Nafarroa, Spain

        About Me Developer, Maker

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Concise
        • Covers many data sources
        • Many links

        Cons

        • Current as-of-now
        • Few examples

        Best Uses

        • Expert
        • Intermediate

        Use: quick and short guide on web data sources that can be used (mostly) in any application to give it "top value".
        Great: short but loaded with 57 different data sources covered on Websites, People, Locations, Companies, Books, Films…
        The author has also made a good effort pointing out the main drawbacks that a developer can face when using them.

        Not many examples are provided: shortness is a premium over completeness. However, all the book is filled with links to more detailed information and examples

        Great and cheap acquisition that can be easily read on a weekend. One of those books that shouldn't be kept too far from a development desk.

        (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        Handy guide to Open Data APIs

        By iRomin

        from Mumbai, India

        About Me Developer

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Concise
        • Easy to understand
        • Helpful examples

        Cons

        • Endpoints might change

        Best Uses

        • Intermediate
        • Novice
        • Student

        The Data Source handbook by Pete Warden is a short reference guide to Open Data. The reference has a clear focus on how to get open data on websites, people, locations, companies and common products like books, films and music.

        It provides important information on various web services today that provide this information. Their endpoint urls, the data formats, sample input/output responses are discussed. It has just about enough for anyone who is interested in understanding what open data is available and how to go around fetching it. If you have an idea on building a mashup that needs access to this data, this book can definitely be your starting point that shows you where you can get this data.

        I recommend it as a good reference of Open Data APIs. It will surely whet your appetite for more Open APIs.

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