Your favourite franchises are having an open source love affair with tech

by Natali Vlatko - 29 Mar 2016

The tech world has been slowly permeating popular culture for some time now, with TV shows like Mr Robot and Silicon Valley making their mark, all the way to Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference being treated like a rock concert instead of the collection of release announcements it is. Apple is also further extending its reach and creating an original TV series called ‘Vital Signs’ starring Dr. Dre. Cool, right? With everyone's fingers in every pie, it's only a matter of time before your favourite books, movies, and TV shows become inundated by tech's iterations.

Two franchises that have seen a lot of love in recent times are the revived Star Wars trilogies and the violent, incestuous, fantasy-series-turned-TV-leviathan Game of Thrones. And thanks to their growing popularity, they now have their own APIs.

Released last month, the Game of Thrones API is an open source collection of quantified and structured data granting access to most books, characters, and family houses of the series. The term “most” is the give-away here: The project is open source, meaning it also needs further contributions for the data to be complete. To take part, you'll need to fork the repository, implement your new functionality (or bug fix), write tests, and submit a pull request for the master branch to be updated. Being open, no authentication is required to query the API for data, however it'll only support GET-ting data. The API automatically paginates responses, too.

Joakim Skoog, the API's creator, has called for fellow Game of Thrones aficionados to commit language specific wrappers and libraries to the project. A Node.js library has already been created, which supplements the original ASP.NET Web API 2 and Entity Framework the API is built on. There's also additional libraries for Swift, GraphQL, and Python.

Skoog was inspired by the Star Wars API, affectionately known as “SWAPI”. Here, all seven Star Wars films have been categorically quantified and made programmatically-accessible through an HTTP API. Encodings are provided in JSON and libraries exist for Python, JavaScript, Java, Go, Ruby, Angular and Objective-C. All resources support JSON Schema and rate limiting has been implemented to ensure the service can handle a potentially large amount of traffic.

The API delivers data via a “RESTish” implementation using Django and the Django REST Framework. Paul Hallett, who developed the API around Christmas 2014, had previously assembled the Pokémon API, and says that “if you provide data easily, someone will consume it”. APIs like this provide developers with the resources they need to enjoy their favourite pastimes in a way crafted specifically for them, taking their experience with these popular shows to an almost personal level.

This coupling of pop culture and tech via accessible data opens up a new way to consume our favourite books and movies, on top of allowing the uninitiated to learn more about series canon. Anyone can get involved in these projects, making access the key theme that connects pop culture and evolving tech. Here at Zalando, we love a bit of franchise action, so don't be surprised if you find our techies contributing sometime soon!

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