Planet of the API

Several weeks back I was discussing with a co-worker what it means to work in the data field.  The old-school answer, which is still probably the most common, is that you will be in some way involved with databases.  While that is unlikely to change there is a shift towards working with APIs instead of directly with the database (providing a level of abstraction from the underlying database).  I, for one, am a strong fan of this approach since it often makes my life easier.

Of course that means that someone has to build the APIs, which has gotten a whole lot easier.  The question from my co-worker was, “Can you build an API in R?”  Valid question.  My off-the-cuff answer was of course, you can do anything in R, and if you can’t do it in native R you use Rcpp and do it in C++ and call it from R (EDIT: After thinking about this a bit, it is probably not wise to do this in R given the fact that R is an interpreted language and doesn’t really “run” a stand-alone application in the traditional sense).

While I didn’t take the time to develop an API in R,  I did write a simple Java program that uses Maven, Spring MVC, and MyBatis to publish an API.  I learned this technique from some highly seasoned developers; many thanks to them.

It is really quite simple once you get all the pieces hooked together.

Check it out on GitHub.

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