Why does ChinesePod have an API?
Why are we doing this?
Fundamentally, we believe one of the biggest failings of many online learning sites is the lack of openness and interoperability. I have put together a blog post outlining our thinking on this point: http://thenetworksense.com/2010/09/14/the-importance-of-openness/.
go_manlySeptember 14, 2010, 05:52 AM
Could someone please explain in non-technical terms what an API is.
Also, I've just looked at the 'blog' [I've only recently learned what a blog is, although I don't see why a blog needs a special name - isn't it just a 'thread' for one person?].
From this 'blog', what is an 'Android Application', and what is a 'Wiki' ?
And how will an API and an Android Application assist my learning on Chinese Pod. Will they make the Dialogs easier to understand? Will they answer my language-related questions more quickly? Will I learn more Chinese more quickly due to their introduction?
hankfdhSeptember 14, 2010, 06:14 AM
In non-technical terms an API is simply a way for two different web sites or services to work together.
Let's start with a couple questions. At ChinesePod.com, how can students get feedback on whether or not their tones are correct or where can they practice writing Chinese characters? These functions are not available on the website and, frankly, other people/company/websites do a better job of providing these services.
Now a student can go direct to those services, but wouldn't it be better if there was some integration? For example, a student could listen to a ChinesePod lesson and save a few words they would like to remember. They could then import these words into a service like Skritter to practice writing the characters or a service like AIChinese to learn how to pronounce them properly. I would argue that there is more value for the student in having all these services connected rather than separate.
The API is the 'plumbing' that makes all this possible. At the end of the day, the goal is to create more choice and value for the student. If these features don't solve your problems, then there is no need to use them.
Thanks for the response - I get the idea, and it does sound useful.
1. I still don't know what an Android Application is.
2. Would it be possible to use this technology to plug into an online dictionary?
1. The Android Application is simply a piece of software for Android-powered mobile phones. We have a similar application for the iPhone. People who are on-the-go and away from a computer can use these 'apps' to do most things they can do on the normal website. The purpose of these applications is to improve accessibility for the student.
2. Yes. That is a great example. ChinesePod has always had a glossary, but never a dictionary. An API would be an appropriate way for ChinesePod to offer this service if we could find a willing dictionary-provider. With an API, both sides need to agree to the connection.
Speaking of the Android software did you know it is not available on the Market in Taiwan? I've been making a bit of noise about this over the past couple of days but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Also the apk to donwload direct of the site is out of date. I want to upgrade but it seems that after the recent update a few users want to downgrade. Can you please just host all the builds on the site so we can all pick a build which best suits our needs?
We have the same problem here in Shanghai. They are working on dedicated pages for all of our apps that will have both the change log and, in the case of Android, the APK file. This will likely be on the site next week.
In the meantime, if you direct message me your email address I can email you the 2.0.5 APK file.
Apologies for any inconvenience.