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Gateway to Research API Hack Days

Ash and I are at the Gateway to Research API hack days. Gateway to Research contains data since 2006 about UK research project funding and related organisations, people and publications.

They use the CERIF data model, which is a bit of a monster. The CERIF people are very nice, but have limited resources to produce the kind of documentation I’ve become accustomed to. I enjoy cursing the darkness, but eventually I feel guilty and decide to light a candle. The CERIF people kept looking sad when I berated them about documentation, and all they really had were the XML from their modelling tool (TOAD) and the XSD documnent which it spits out. With some Perl & DOM hacking and lots of advice from them, I’ve managed to produce a CERIF description document which I feel is more useful to code hackers who get twitchy when the only documentation is in PDF and the only introductions are in Powerpoint slides. They got me a couple of pints as thanks, which was nice.


I’ve also been kicking around the API. The things I noticed were some minor inconsistancies with XML naming which I’ve pointed out to them. But they are niggles. There’s more pressing things so here’s my wishlist:

  • URI scheme: All (most) stuff in GtR is identified by a UUID but it would be very helpful for creating linksets.
  • Data dump location with ALL the data in one big file (maybe put this on bit-torrent)
  • In the individual pages put <link rel=’alternate’ > headers and icon on the HTML pages to link to the XML and JSON versions of the information.
  • RDF Output (well, I would say that, wouldn’t I)
  • Release the code early and often. The current plan is to release code at the end of the project which means no community input to the code will be possible.

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