Treating the web as a data source is a passion of Import.io, a start-up company founded in 2012 with co-headquarters in London and San Francisco. The company recently announced a new service allowing its users to turn any web page into an API, thus making it easy for developers to pull data from the web.
The new service called “Data Factory” is implemented as a Chrome browser extension that adds an Import.io button to your browser. The import.io data factory button works in two ways:
- If you click the button while on a URL that they already recognize, import.io immediately provides an API for that page and its data.
- If you click it on a page it doesn’t recognize, it snaps a screenshot of the page. You visually highlight the elements of interest, and send it off to import.io. Someone on their end (at one of their “factories” in London or India), will quickly prep the API and send it your way. From that point on, that page now has a ready-to-go API for future users to be served immediately.
The service that import.io offers is currently completely free. In time, they plan to offer premium services on top of the APIs (e.g. API usage analytics), and are considering introducing volume limits on free accounts.
Import.io estimates they have around 8,000 users to date, with those users having created around 15,000 APIs. With big data marching ever forward, adding web-based data content to the mix is a very positive move.
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