A New Focus on Sunlight’s APIs


Sunlight Foundation APIsAt Sunlight we’re immensely proud of our community of API users and today we’re launching a new section of our website to learn more about them, see how others use the data and a snazzy query builder to easily see what’s possible. Sunlight creates APIs to power our own tools as well as to provide infrastructure to the Open Gov and advocacy community at large. We hope this free and open data will improve your ability to create transparency around the issues you care about.

API stands for application programming interface and is a system that makes it easy for programers to use each other’s data. At Sunlight we are eager for you to be able to access and build great projects on top of the data we use in our own projects. Nonprofit organizations, political campaigns, media outlets, students and citizens all use our collection of APIs with more than 7,000 keys issued and 735 million API calls made to date.

On the overview page we include a list of the APIs we provide, which projects each API powers, if it’s functioning normally and an in-browser ability to see the kind of queries possible. We are showcasing Open Gov projects that could use technical or non-technical contributions on the community page, such as helping LittleSis track influence by building profiles and connections for powerful people and organizations or helping the unitedstates project on github to collect data on Congress. The bottom of the community page is a section called “When We Dream” where we share problems we’d love to see addressed and hope to open up a conversation on how to tackle the issue. On the events page we feature upcoming meetups, hackathons, conferences and camps that may pique your interest.

The new API section also features a gallery of how others use our data in interesting ways along with analytics on our number of keys, average daily calls and total calls. This section will hopefully serve as inspiration with ideas like how MinnPost used our Open States API to build a feature tracking the most important legislative bills in Minnesota, or how One Block Off the Grid added a call your member of Congress feature to their solar estimator tool to find local incentives. We list other organizations that have used our free data in the sidebar of the overview and although we can’t endorse or claim any responsibility for how others use our data, we’re just happy to see people using it!

We feature the new API section of our website in the top level navigation across our site to reflect our renewed focus on the data we provide and hope that you are inspired to sign-up for a key to build something. Keep up with the latest news about our APIs through the Sunlight Labs API Google Group or follow Sunlight Labs on Twitter.