Here we are, well into the social web era, and content management systems are still a big topic on the web. And it doesn’t look like that’s about to change. One might reasonably ask “Why are we still talking about CMS technology?” Well, frankly, it’s because some of us haven’t completely figured it out yet. […]

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The self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports” launched the ESPN Developer Center on Monday, for the first time allowing software developers to use APIs providing a plethora of information from around the sports universe.

“The play for us is making sure we have our content in all these different digital ecosystems,” Jason Guenther, ESPN’s vice president of digital media technology, told Mashable last week. “Connected devices are only going to proliferate in every aspect of life, so it’s important that we can reach fans no matter the product or place.”

ESPN’s Headlines API is now available to the public through the Developer Center. It connects apps to ESPN’s huge amount of daily news stories, columns and analysis pieces covering a wide rage of sports leagues, teams and athletes. The Research Notes API is available for ESPN partners and gives access to historical notes, trivia and factoids.

Foursquare got special permission to use a version of the Research Notes API last August, and provides an example of how ESPN’s treasure trove of data will enhance other apps. When Foursquare users check into a sports-related event or location, they can receive relevant bits of complementary information courtesy of ESPN. Pulse and Flipboard have also been using ESPN APIs already.

Other APIs are still in private beta but should become more widely available soon. One organizes daily logistical information such as scores, schedules and venues. Another updates league and division standings, and others provide feeds to information on teams and players.

“The end result is that you can create any experience with any device with the information we give you,” Chris Jason, director of ESPN’s API program, said in an interview.

But Jason and Guenther say the Developer Center and API program aren’t just designed to provide ESPN content and information to outside developers. They emphasize that the initiatives also streamline and strengthen ESPN’s in-house development processes. Like many media companies, ESPN has increased its digital emphasis in the past few years, and recently held a multi-site hackathon to help speed innovation.

“One thing I’m most proud of is these APIs shining a light on some of the talent we have internally and giving them an easier road to create new products for the company,” Jason said.

The Headlines API is free for non-commercial use in apps performing up to 2,500 API calls per day. As outside apps that use ESPN APIs increase in user base, developers enter individual partnership agreements with the company. If you want to use ESPN’s new APIs, visit the Developer Center and request a developer key.

Do you think this is a smart move by ESPN? Let us know in the comments.

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Google has unveiled the first developer application programming interfaces for Google+, the company’s new social network.

The launch is the first step toward developers creating Google+ apps and integrating the social network into existing apps.

“I’m super excited about how the Google+ project brings the richness and nuance of real-life sharing to software, and today we’re announcing our first step toward bringing this to your apps as well by launching the Google+ public data APIs,” Google Developer Advocate Chris Chabot said in a Google+ post.

Google made it clear that Thursday’s API release was focused on public data only — they can only retrieve public posts and public profile data.

SEE ALSO: Mobile Developers Excited About Google+, Apple iCloud [REPORT]

As developer Mohamed Mansour notes on Google+, there are not a lot of APIs in this release. Mansour says that Google+’s first APIs only allow for querying of a single person or an activity/action on Google+. This could lead to simple apps that show off a user’s public Google+ stream, but these APIs wouldn’t allow TweetDeck or Hootsuite to support posting to Google+.

According to one recent report, developers are excited by the prospects of Google+. Two-thirds of developers believe that Google+ has the potential to challenge or catch up with Facebook. And it will certainly need the support of developers to compete, especially as its rapid growth begins to wane.

Still, the release is a major milestone in the growth of the toddler social network, which was released less than three months ago. Google+ has a long way to go to unseat Facebook as the king of social networking.

More About: APIs, Google





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Nearly two weeks after Tumblr requested that unofficial browser extension Missing e go offline, the useful utility is planning to make its way back to users.

Missing e is an unofficial browser extension that adds functionality and enhanced features to Tumblr. The ability to reblog yourself, enhance the “Ask” feature and a host of dashboard tweaks are just some of the many features in the extension. Originally, the project started off as a few userscript enhancements, but over time, it evolved into an extension that was frequently updated and frequently developed.

Missing e is one of the few extensions I have installed on every browser on my laptop and iMac. In fact, I like Missing e so much, I reached out to its developer Jeremy Cutler earlier this summer and asked if he would agree to be interviewed for a story on various Tumblr hacks.

Just days before Cutler and I were scheduled to meet in person, Tumblr reached out and asked him to take the extension offline until some issues could be sorted out.

On its face, it looked like Tumblr had problems with the way that Missing e was making some of its API calls, as well as questions about whether or not Missing e followed the guidelines set out in the Tumblr API License Agreement. After Cutler agreed to make changes so that the code was more efficient, as well as removing a feature that would hide the Tumblr Radar, it appeared that the bigger problem, at least from Cutler’s perspective, was the way that Missing e modifies the Tumblr Dashboard for its users. Cutler was left with the impression that without stripping away every feature that would make Missing e useful, he would be unable to satisfy Tumblr.

When we met last week, Cutler opened up to Mashable about some of the technical, ethical and social challenges that have in essence, forced him to throw in the towel on Missing e.

The loss of Missing e wasn’t something that the community took lightly. More than 2,500 users signed a petition to save Missing e and prominent members of the Tumblr community expressed their support for the extension.

Still, Cutler wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue with the project. When we spoke to Cutler last week, the entire issue was still raw. As he wrote on his own Tumblr last week, “it’s hard not taking this personally.”

Tumblr, it turns out, is most responsible for the change in fate for Missing e. You see, earlier this week, some new features made their way into the Tumblr Dashboard. These are features that bore striking resemblance to some of the preferences in Missing e

As Cutler told us via email:

“I had been working a little bit on the code when the mood struck, but when they began releasing features similar to those in Missing e, I have to admit that I got my back up. I am glad that they are trying to improve, whether or not they’ve taken their cues from me. Still, I think the way they’ve implemented these new features leaves a little to be desired. The new release will fix the tag wrapping problem and allow users to make automatic tag reblogging optional.”

At this stage, Cutler is preparing to release a new version of Missing e. This version will not use the API in any way, which to Cutler, should clear him of any violation of the API License Agreement. One of the casualties of not using the API will mean that timestamps on posts in the Dashboard will not supported.

Cutler is also going to remove the popular Follow Checker and Unfollower features from Missing e. As he puts it, “that amount of scraping really isn’t fair to Tumblr’s servers.” And while he expects to lose some users over this feature, he’ll also be getting rid of his biggest source of support queries.

For its part, Tumblr has been quiet regarding the issue. After speaking with Cutler several times last week, the company hasn’t contacted the developer again since the incident received some press attention.

Frankly, as disappointed as we have been that this entire situation has unfolded this way, we’re happy to see that Missing e is going to be back in action. Cutler, who is a software engineer in his day job, is the type of person most companies want as add-on developers.


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Appcelerator and IDC released their Q3 Mobile Developer Report on Wednesday, which looks at how mobile developers currently view the smartphone and tablet landscape. The report revealed that developers are most excited about the mobile potential of Google+ and Apple’s iCloud.

Despite it being just a month old, Google+ is showing plenty of potential, according to devs. The majority surveyed say Google+ has what it takes to compete head-on with Facebook. Meanwhile, iCloud’s mainstream potential has iOS developers enthused about the possibilities of integrating it into their apps.

Looking at the report, the one area that hasn’t changed since last spring is developer interest in the main mobile ecosystems: iOS and Android continue to be the platforms that developers are “very interested” in developing for.

There is a clear disparity between the number of developers that indicate interest in Android tablets and the relatively small number of Honeycomb-optimized apps. Scott Schwarzhoff, Appcelerator’s VP of marketing, says Android tablets are in a holding pattern. Interest is still high — based on the belief that the tablet market will mimic what we’ve seen in the mobile phone market. But tablet pricing, availability and market share are keeping many developers from taking that first step.

For the first time, Appcelerator and IDC added HTML5 to its list of platforms. Some 66% of respondents indicated that they were very interested in that format.

As we’ve seen with Twitter‘s new HTML5 iPad website, the trend of creating both native apps and HTML5 web apps — rather than choosing one or the other — remains strong.


Where’s the API?


To us, the most interesting part of the survey are the questions on social networking and cloud computing APIs.

When asked what announcement would have the biggest impact on mobile growth and adoption, near-field communication (NFC), Android patent issues and rumors of an Amazon Android tablet were all outshone by Google+ and iCloud.

Why is this compelling? Because Google+ doesn’t even have a public facing API. At the time of the survey (two weeks ago), the state of the iCloud API was still relatively limited. Ultimately, we’re not convinced that these statistics will mean a lot in terms of real-world usage, until the APIs are actually released and broadly understood.

On the social front, two-thirds of developers believe that Google+ has the potential to challenge or catch up with Facebook. Again, these numbers are compelling, but they don’t mean a whole lot until Google can back up the hype with a real, tangible API.


Easy Does It


On the cloud computing front — Amazon, the leader in the last few surveys — was essentially tied with Apple and its iCloud platform. Schwarzhoff says iCloud, unlike Amazon’s AWS, is thought to be easier for developers to implement.

Dropbox and Box.net, cloud collaboration and storage companies that have mobile APIs and are already in use by dozens of mobile apps, were not included in the survey. We think iCloud will be used by developers the same way that Box.net and Dropbox are used now, for easy access to storage and syncing tools.

Does the latest mobile survey mirror any of your thoughts and experiences with mobile app development? Let us know in the comments.

More About: appcelerator, Google Plus, icloud, mobile developer reports, stats

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For months now, web developers and designers have flocked to Mashable to learn from and share our how-to guides, analyses, videos, lists, videos and galleries.

Below, we’ve assembled 33 of our favorite resources since January and separated them into three easily digestible lists: inspiration, design and development.

To keep up to date with news and resources about the topics listed below, feel free to follow Mashable‘s dev & design channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


Inspiration



Design



Development


For more news and resources on the topics covered in this post, you can follow Mashable‘s dev & design channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

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Music developers, it’s time to get programming. Music intelligence platform The Echo Nest has just announced a partnership with subscription app Rdio that will help devs create more engaging apps for music discovery.

As you may recall, super-social music subscription service Rdio opened its Rdio.com API and affiliate program to developers during SXSW, allowing devs to tap into its 8 million-song catalog and monetize any resulting apps through Rdio‘s affiliate program, which pays a commission for directing new subscribers their way and for song downloads. AOL was one of the first to take advantage of that API with a free Android app called Play.

The Echo Nest already has access to music from the likes of 7 Digital and Island Def Jam. It’s now added Rdio to its stable of song-providers.

What this means is developers will be able to marry musical intelligence with scads of songs. In any new app, users will be able to check out 30-second samples of songs via Rdio, or, if they are subscribers to the service, listen to entire songs. If a user signs up for a subscription via the app, the developer will get 2% to 3% of the subscription fee.

“We really want to help developers build commercially successful music applications,” says The Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese. “Rdio offers a simple and elegant way for developers to build streaming applications.”

In addition to Rdio’s catalog, developers will be able to tap into the service’s social features, from manipulating the social graph (adding friends) to creating playlists and getting info about new releases.

You can check out the partnership in action via Music Maze, a nifty little app that allows you to search for artists and build a shareable web of similar acts.

Hackers can take Music Maze as inspiration for the upcoming Music Hack Day in San Francisco (May 7-8), at which the Rdio/Echo Nest partnership will be available for use.

Image courtesy of Flickr, craigCloutier

More About: design-and-dev, Echo Nest, music, rdio

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You don’t have to get hit by the proverbial bus to know it hurts, and you don’t have to make the same mistakes other devs have made on your way to a functional, widely used, efficiently managed API. In our final post on API management, our panel of experts has returned to give a few oft-committed mistakes for companies or developers offering an API for the first time — and how you can avoid them.


Clear & Fair Docs & Guidelines Are Key


Of course, offering an API involves a lot more than just creating the API itself. Guillaume Balas is an executive at 3scale, which offers full-featured API management and monetization tools. He says many of 3scale’s customers make mistakes such as not including documentation, sample code, or examples. He said that having no Terms and Conditions or unclear T&Cs is also unfortunately common.

Oren Michels is Mashery‘s CEO. His company does API management and strategy for more than 100 brands and 25,000 applications. He agrees that “lousy or inaccurate or missing documentation” is a common mistake, as is “terms and conditions that say ‘no commercial use’ or other things that suggest to developers that for some reason you get to make money and they don’t.”

And with your API, as with many other aspects of your business, “Keep It Simple, Stupid” is a dictum you can’t afford to forget. “Complex registration and key issuance protocols, or worse yet, requiring people to email a key request and wait for someone to get around to responding” is a practice Michels cautions you to avoid.


Be Prepared to Market Your Butt Off


Shanley Kane works on the product team at Apigee, a company that offers a range of API tools for developers and software companies. She says a common mistake is hiding your API under a bushel. “For companies new to the API game, opening up can be scary. Many companies make the mistake of not talking about their APIs — to press, developers and partners — and then wonder why no one is using their API. Commit to making your API a success by embracing the new rules of developer marketing.”

Augusto Marietti founded Mashape, a marketplace for building, distributing and hacking with APIs. He says the biggest mistake many API-offering companies make is not having enough focus in the marketing in the initial months after an API launch.

“You have to target not all kinds of developers,” he says, “but only the developers who need your API to solve a real problem they have. You have to look around, find and contact them, one by one. Those early adopters will spread your API to the world and thousands of other developers.”

Moreover, he notes that in addition to focus, you’ll need a good plan, a lot of resources and a certain amount of stamina. “Launching an API is like launching a new product, in that you have to give it all of your effort for at least six months. [You must] go to meetups, organize contests with interesting prizes that devs really want to have, evangelize your API around the world and organize hackathons.”

Marietti also recommends partnering with other companies with APIs related to your business. You’ll attract more business and split the cost of marketing your API.

Dimitri Sirota is an executive for Layer 7 Technologies, which offers its own suite of API management tools for the enterprise. He says another marketing (or PR) mistake is “having references that don’t relate to your business. Make sure you have references that look like you. For instance, if you are an enterprise, make sure you have enterprise customers supporting and referencing you.”


Get Feedback & Use It


Kane also cautions API-offerers to get feedback “early and often” to have a successful launch.

By “early and often,” she means getting select developers on-board and using your API in its most nascent stages. Invite a few trusted devs to use a private, “pre-alpha” version of your API, and put your API through a thorough beta stage, too.

While in these more formative stages, use the feedback you get to improve your design, find and squash bugs, and generally “make sure that the API is usable and pleasurable when you go live,” says Kane.


Brace Yourself for Traffic


Kane also says many API noobs are not prepared for the scope and scale of API traffic, which, she warns, is quite different from the traffic your web app might see.

“Your API will be accessed by mobile apps, web services and potentially hundreds of connected devices and platforms. Supporting that traffic means building out an API stack that will scale, prevent abuse and misuse, support mobile optimization and give you visibility and control.

“There are a number of API-specific solutions out there … but the most important thing is to understand how API traffic is different, and then you build your infrastructure accordingly.”

Sirota says many companies make the mistake of “not using a robust proxy that can provide a range of security and management controls.”


Understand How the API Will Affect Your — & Devs’ — Business


Michels gets the sage final word, saying that
many companies make the mistake of not truly understanding how an API can grow their business. Instead, companies believe developers should all be paying for API access and should only get limited access, at that.

You might want to change directions, he says, if your API offers “no path to success — limits on traffic or usage that can’t be raised if someone is successful.” Or if your company is charging for your API, “believing that developers will plunk down a credit card and pay by the call, or by the thousands of calls.”

The overarching mistake here, he notes, is “not understanding how and why the API will improve and grow your business and focusing on making sure it does that.”

Sirota makes a similar point, saying a big mistake is “starting too big and worrying about revenue from the get-go. Start small. Get an API out there and learn — worry about revenue later.”

Do you have other tips for avoiding API mistakes? Let us know in the comments.


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More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:


Ruby on Rails: Scaling Your App for Rapid Growth
Should Your API Be Free or Pay-to-Play?
HOW TO: Get Devs to Use Your Company’s API
Should Your Company Offer an API?
10 Tools for Getting Web Design Feedback

Image based on a photo from iStockphoto user alxpin.

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In our ongoing series on APIs, we’ve covered whether to offer an API and how to get people using it. Now, we’re delving into one of the most important questions an API-offering company can ask: free or paid?


Paid Is the New Trend


Augusto Marietti founded Mashape, a marketplace for building, distributing and hacking with APIs. He says that while the majority of APIs are now free, that trend is changing.

“I think that the monetization of APIs in 2011 is like the monetization of search back in 1999. … For example, Twitter started to charge [for use] of its data via APIs using Gnip as a reseller. Newer startups for which the API is the product, like Twilio or SimpleGeo, are coming out regularly. These startups are making money out of their APIs — a lot.

“The best bet is to keep a freemium model, so that all of your developers can try your API and use it for a while before opening up their pockets. You will see more and more startups having an API not only as a distribution mode but as an additional revenue stream, too.”


Cover Your Costs


Guillaume Balas is an executive at 3scale, which offers full-featured API management and monetization tools. He says, “At 3scale we believe this very much depends on what companies want to achieve with their API and who is going to be their users/customers. Not charging for your API access has definite advantages, such as improving branding and online presence and accelerating developers’ adoption … But don’t neglect the economics of your API business and the costs (infrastructure, management, maintenance, support, communication and promotion) associated with it.”

He adds, “Brand equity is great, innovation is key. But cash is king — and companies must at least cover their costs.”

Dimitri Sirota, an executive for Layer 7 Technologies, which offers its own suite of API management tools for the enterprise, says you should do both. “Have your API be free to start with and ask people to pay for higher grades of SLA, premium functionality, enhanced support, etc. Maybe offer a revenue share,” he says.


Consider a Hybrid Model


Shanley Kane works on the product team at Apigee, a company that offers a range of API tools for developers and software companies. She says, “The choice to charge for an API or offer it for free needs to be connected to your business goals and objectives. For many companies, charging for data and services exposed through an API makes sense. APIs provide a better way for customers to integrate and innovate and are an important monetization channel.”

However, for companies that open an API to expand into new platforms like connected and mobile devices, or to encourage third-party innovation, she doesn’t recommend a paid model. “For these companies, charging for access just adds a barrier to entry,” Kane says.

Kane also suggests a free-paid hybrid model, wherein independent devs get free access to build apps and larger partners pay for higher rate limits and additional support.


Make the API Part of Your Business Plan


Oren Michels is Mashery‘s CEO. His company does API management and strategy for more than 100 brands and 25,000 applications. He says the API should be an extension of the company’s overall business model.

“If your business model is to sell TVs, you want it to help you sell more TVs. If you are traffic/ad based, you want to generate more traffic looking at your ads. If you happen to be in the business of selling data — a big ‘if,’ since few companies are — then by all means charge for your API. More accurately, charge for access to your data, which may include either charging more for it by API or including API access as part of the overall subscription.”

Do you have other tips for pricing an API? Let us know in the comments.


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The Web Development Series is supported by Rackspace, the better way to do hosting. No more worrying about web hosting uptime. No more spending your time, energy and resources trying to stay on top of things like patching, updating, monitoring, backing up data and the like. Learn why.

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More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:


Ruby on Rails: Scaling Your App for Rapid Growth
HOW TO: Transfer Your Blog From WordPress.com to WordPress.org [VIDEO]
A Beginner’s Guide to Integrated Development Environments
10 Chrome Web Apps to Check Out
10 Tools for Getting Web Design Feedback

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Once you’ve decided to build and distribute an API, how do you persuade developers to use it?

Our panel of API experts has returned to reveal tips and best practices for promoting your API among third-party developers, and they’ve got some great ideas for helping you achieve critical mass.

Guillaume Balas is an executive at 3scale, which offers full-featured API management and monetization tools. He says, “There is no secret sauce that guarantees API success. However, there are some must-have best practices to follow … But even having these best practices in place, there are still many other dimensions to consider.”

For example, Balas asks, what kind of recognition does your brand already have? What kind of buzz will you get from an API launch? How much are you willing to invest in promoting your API and supporting its users? How fast will you act on feedback from your API users? The answers to questions like these will determine the size of your API’s userbase.


Make It Worth Their While


Oren Michels is Mashery‘s CEO — his company does API management and strategy for more than 100 brands and 25,000 applications. He reminds those with APIs to remember that the API itself necessitates a symbiotic relationship. To get devs onboard, he says you must offer developers something meaningful — usually that’s fame or fortune.

“What is in it for a developer to work with you? Does it provide direct economic benefit (always nice) or indirect benefit (often nicer), such as making an app they have built better and therefore more likely to make them money? Celebrate successful developers as the heroes they are. Remember that if it’s all about you, they have no reason to build things for you,” Michels says.

He also notes that making terms and conditions reasonable and allowing devs to actually make money from your API is a given. A good rule of thumb: Would you sign your own T&Cs if you were a dev? If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board.


Make It Really Easy


Shanley Kane works on the product team at Apigee, a company that offers a range of API tools for developers and software companies. She says the key to mass adoption of your API is making it as simple to use as possible.

“Developers use APIs that are accessible, follow REST design principles and lower the barrier to entry,” she says. “Simplicity is a differentiator, and complexity kills adoption. Use a simple design, version intelligently, have good documentation and be responsive in support forums.”

Michels is in agreement on that score. “You have to make it easy, ” he says, “with lots of communication and documentation. Code samples. Active forums where questions are answered quickly and accurately. You want to be the path of least resistance to solving their problem when and how they want to solve it.”


Get Into the Community


Kane also notes it’s important to be part of the community of developers you’re trying to build. “Promote the awesome apps devs build,” she says. “Go to hackathons or hold your own. Tell developer press about what you’re working on. Have contests. Stay in touch on developer forums and online communities. If no one knows about your API and the great things they could do with it, no one will use it.”

Dimitri Sirota is an executive for Layer 7 Technologies, which offers its own suite of API management tools for the enterprise. Accordingly, he comes to the table with a different perspective from that of the typical web startup developer.

For enterprise (and other) APIs, Sirota recommends a few tricks for jump-starting API usage. If you have the resources, you could hold contests to find and reward the best apps built on your API or organize dev camps, for example.

But Sirota also points out the basics: You’ve got to “make the tools readily available, promote novel applications built on the APIs, advertise APIs … and help developers make money from APIs” as part of your community-building plan.

Do you have other tips for getting devs to use your API? Let us know in the comments.


Series Supported by Rackspace


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The Web Development Series is supported by Rackspace, the better way to do hosting. No more worrying about web hosting uptime. No more spending your time, energy and resources trying to stay on top of things like patching, updating, monitoring, backing up data and the like. Learn why.

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More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:



Ruby on Rails: Scaling Your App for Rapid Growth
HOW TO: Transfer Your Blog From WordPress.com to WordPress.org [VIDEO]
A Beginner’s Guide to Integrated Development Environments
10 Chrome Web Apps to Check Out
10 Tools for Getting Web Design Feedback

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