Getting started


So you want to create a new application, widget or mashup using DigitalNZ content, but aren't sure where to start? Here are a few tips to get you going.

0. Get a DigitalNZ API key

Create a DigitalNZ account and generate an API key. The key be a long string of jumbled letters and numbers that is unique to you.

When you make a call to the API you'll append it to the URL like this (this call won't actually work because it's a fake key):

http://api.digitalnz.org/v3/records.json?api_key=YOUR_API_KEY&text=kiwi

1. Consider the available data

So here at DigitalNZ we collect metadata about New Zealand's digital content. Metadata is information that describes a particular item, like a title, the name of its creator, or the date it was produced. Understanding what we've got will help you figure out what you can do.

Via the API you can submit a query to our search index and it will return information about the various NZ images, audio, video, magazines, documents, and web pages that we're aggregating from our content partners.

The quality and availability of the metadata varies considerably, but in general you can get access to this kind of information:

  • Title
  • Description
  • URL to the item
  • URL to a thumbnail
  • Publisher
  • Creator
  • Date
  • Location
  • Language
  • Rights information

You can get a feel for the info in the full search index, and can find further details about the metadata in the API documentation and the Metadata Dictionary [opens a Google Document] which describes the most common fields used in the Digital New Zealand system.

Please also check out the Developer API Terms of Use which explain how you are allowed to use the metadata.

2. Review the beginners guide to data mashups

As part of the Mix and Mash competition this beginners guide was produced to introduce folk to APIs and mashups. There's also a video of the workshop.

3. Pick a topic

Figure out what are you trying to achieve; or what problem are you looking to solve? And if you are not quite sure what you want, that's okay, check out Programmable Web's mashup dashboard for some inspiration.

4. Choose other data services

If you want to bring in additional API services and mix things up a bit, Programmable Web also has a great API dashboard to guide you. Each sector will also have it's own lists of specific API, for example Library APIs. If you're just starting out then maybe keep it simple, start with one type of API, and progressively add more layers as you get more confident.

5. Get coding

Okay, so this is where the real work begins. We can't teach you how to program here, sorry, but we'll point you again to the beginners guide to data mashups. Or check out our blog post about building a website on the DigitalNZ API.

6. Send us an example

Let us know what you've been working on... we'd love to tell everyone!