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instructaBUBBLES!

It's a web app that displays a bunch of recently published Instructables as an interactive bubble-chart.

You can try it out at https://instructabubbles.herokuapp.com/.

I decided to build this after discovering that Instructables.com has an unofficial API hosted by Mashape.com.

Now, if...

A) you know all about API's - click the link above and go check it! All you need to do is sign up for a Mashape account and you'll get your unique API key.

B) you're now quite sure what that means - read on for more explanation.

* note this an UNOFFICIAL API, meaning Instructables doesn't guarantee it won't change without notice, likely breaking any applications you build using it.

Step 1: Some More Explanation - Overview and Endpoints

The unofficial Instructables API is a handful of URLs. Most people are familiar with URLs as the text you see and sometimes type in the bar at the top of a web browser. We can think of them as an address and message rolled into one for communicating with a web server. When a web server receives a request via a URL it responds by sending some specified set of information..

The three URL Endpoints (marked with a green arrow in the screenshot) provided by Instructables and their responses are...

  • Get Categories - sends a list of Instructable Categories (Technology, Food, etc) with Channels (Audio, EL Wire, etc) nested inside
  • Get List - sends a bunch of Instructables in the form of metadata, references to the cover image, and a link to the article
  • Show Details - sends the contents of an individual Instructable

Heres the base URL plus the path for the Get List endpoint.

URLs can also contain queries that add specificity to a request. For example, requests made to the Get List endpoint can include query strings specifying the number, offset, sorting method, and type of Instructables returned (see green brackety looking thing in the screenshot).

Query strings are placed in a URL after a "?" and tacked together with "&"s.

Requests can be sent to a URL endpoint via a web browser - you do it every time you type in a web address - but there are other, more powerful ways of interacting with APIs. More on that in the next section.

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