Blogging APIs

On the blosxom mailing list, someone was confused about the interaction between the different APIs for accessing blogging tools and formats. They asked what the story was, and I responsed with this summary of the market (available from the blosxom mailing list archives) (which was current at the time, but getting a little dated now);

From: “Beau” <beau@d…>
Date: Tue Mar 9, 2004 4:00 pm
Subject: Re: [blosxom] APIs, new blogging things, etc.

Ok Steve, I’ll take a bash at some of this, since I’ve been working with blogging APIs for a couple years now in effect, I’ve come across all the ones that you’ve mentioned πŸ™‚ Someone else please fill gaps or correct me if I slip up somewhere πŸ™‚

Ok – so, in approximate chronological order of time of appearance on the scene;

* Blogger API 1.0
The original – based on XML-RPC [1] calls, gave access to most (all?) of Blogger’s original functionality, and was pretty darned easy to use. You POST an XML doc with encoded requests in it to a specific URL, and the response is another XML doc which you can then use however you like. Ev Williams of Blogger knocked this up over a couple of days apparently, and it went crazy from there – I’m still using it today in and it still works (usually :P)

* metaWebLogAPI [Added 2004-07-07]
Effectively a derivative of the Blogger API (and also XML-RPC based), this one came up to support Radio, I believe Dave Weiner knocked it up, and there was some animosity between he and Ev Williams over whether they should combine to create a unified blogging API (Radio and Blogger being the big 1 at the time) or go their separate ways. I believe one of the main reasons things went this way was because Blogger didn’t need/want title field support, but Radio did,
thus the metaWebLogAPI, intended to be more universal.

* Blogger API 2.0
Blogger realised that with their new versions, support from Google etc, they needed to clean up their API-act, so they started working on API 2.0. This one supports title fields and a number of other things, and is accessed via XML-RPC as well. As you can see at the URL, the draft specs were released in Feb 2003, but a couple months later, it was revoked and people were instructed not to use it, because there was no support for it and Atom (then called Echo) was going to be used in prefence… which brings us to…

* Echo… Necho… Atom API
Originally called Echo, then they decided that was no good, so it was refered to as Necho (Not Echo) for a while, and finally ended up being called Atom. This one is based on a REST architecture ([2], [3]), based on [4]. The Atom API sort of duplicates the efforts of RSS, in that it presents blog data in an XML format, but it also allows you to modify that data (thus API) via
REST-style interactions, involving PUT/POST/DELETE requests. I haven’t worked all this out just yet, but I have to so that I can update a few projects of mine (namely AvantBlog [5] and webpad [6]). There is also a SOAP [7] implementation of Atom, which I assume supports all the same sort of functions (retrieving posts/blogs, updating them etc), tho I haven’t looked at that at
all, as personally I hate SOAP πŸ™‚ The idea of Atom is to provide a universal API which will be supported by all blogging systems (I believe MT and Blogger are already on board, others are likely to follow) so that we can write tools which will interop with all systems easily.


Now, as for blosxom’s support for any of this mumbo jumbo – I know that sxtem [8] was written to provide Blogger API functionality for blosxom, and then you also have the atomfeed plugin [9] to provide an outgoing only (RSS-like syndication side of Atom, but not the modification side) feed for blosxom blogs. As for complete Atom API integration (allowing post editing etc via REST-calls), I’m not aware of any implementation allowing that so far, probably because the Atom spec [10] is still somewhat in flux, and even if it’s not, it’s a little hard to understand (for me at least :).


So there you have it – as far as I am aware, that’s how the playing field lies at this point in regards to blogging APIs, and I haven’t even bothered to mention Movabletype (which, incidentally, implements a mish-mash of API and metaWebLogAPI functionality), so we’re doing quite well πŸ™‚ The beauty of blosxom is that to some extent, it doesn’t even need any of this mumbo-jumbo – you can call FTP the blosxom API if you really want πŸ™‚ When I eventually get an Atom toolkit operational, it’ll be written in PHP and linked from my Blogger API page [11], which is the current home of a number of other PHP-based blogging classes and function libraries. Until then – I’ll keep an eye out and play Lazy-web-style in the hope that someone else will beat me to it πŸ™‚


Cheers, and I hope that sums things up for you Steve (and others)


Beau Lebens
Information Architect
Dented Reality –
Information Architecture, Usability, Web Development