DNZ Blog

DigitalNZ APIs in action

By Virginia.

One of the best ways to explain the benefits of having an open API (Application Programming Interface) to data in the DigitalNZ discovery system is to show it in use.

What’s an API? In short, it’s a way for software applications to ‘talk to’ each other, and a way for developers to ‘talk to’ applications. We use an API to share data with other applications.

The Indicommons website summarises it like this:

"Open APIs allow services and collections to become interconnected, the experience of outside developers to be engaged, and new tools and spaces to be fashioned to benefit the community at large."

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen two new examples that really demonstrate the joy of a ‘joined up’ web of data.

Both Te Papa and Auckland City Libraries have recently launched systems that draw links to content from other organisations into their local search experiences. Take a look below to see the DigitalNZ API in action.

Te Papa Collections Online


Try a search for something like kiwi and check out the right hand panel. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the Te Papa collections, maybe it’s available from another DigitalNZ content provider.

If you’ve got questions about how they did this, drop them a line on the Te Papa blog.

Chinese Digital Community


This is a really neat application of the new External Search Sources Rails Engine developed by Katipo Communications for Kete and other Ruby on Rails applications. It uses an RSS feed to draw results in from other sites, including the DigitalNZ search system via our API.

Seeing tools like these coming to light is fantastic, and we look forward to seeing more examples of developers working with the DigitalNZ API to make NZ content easier to find share and use.

Let us know if you’ve got something in the pipeline too.

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Paul Reynolds says:

I am so pleased to see these two examples - they are such great examples of contextual search.
The Digital Chinese Communities project in particular is such a great example of new private/community memory being contextulaised against public/heritage sources.

This was one of the key aims of the project.
when we first started talking about it - the tools to do it just didn't exist.

Now, courtesy of DNZ and Kete - then the Katipo Rails work we have the routes working and sending gold up and down the line.
Thanks a bunch to all parties - it takes the big vision to a collaborative read/write learning world one step closer.

It is also so good to see TePapa starting to share/collaborate

paul reynolds