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APIs: Ambassadors of the Tech Industry

OK I'll admit it:  I'm an API-oholic.  I'm addicted to APIs.  In the nerdy tech world, APIs are old news, but to most regular folks, the term APIs is just a confusing acronym.  It is my goal to de-mystify the API a bit in this post, and explain how APIs are changing the world in very real, tangible ways that will matter to you.

First, a definition and a bit of history.  API stands for Application Programming Interface.  That's also a pretty incomprehensible set of words to most people.   So let's simplify:  For the purpose of this blog post, think of an API as a key that opens a door to a room you really want to get into.

Let's take this fantasy analogy a bit further.  Let's imagine that there are rumors that there's an island in the Pacific ocean that's inhabited by a previously unknown group of humans which have never before had contact with the modern world.  They don't speak English, but it just so happens that their little island is known to have a tremendous stockpile of diamonds and gold.  There's a mad rush by many people to figure out where this island is located so they can lay claim to its natural resources.

But the inhabitants of this Secret Island are smart.  They know how valuable their gold and diamonds are, and they know that by allowing the modern world to find them, they'll be in danger.  So they send an ambassador to strike a compromise, and that ambassador happens to find you (imagine the odds -- it's your lucky day!) The ambassador tells you that the entire modern world can communicate with their island through a special interface they've set up.  And they will answer, but only if the communication happens on very specific terms -- their terms.  They won't answer to any random requests.

This interface he gives you happens to be through a computer terminal.  Well, that's convenient, they know how to use computers. This ambassador gives you a special URL through which you can contact his people.  It looks something like this: http://thedataweb.rm.SecretIsland.gov/data/2010/acs5?key=b48301d897146e8f8efd9bef3c6eb1fcb864cf&get=B02001_001E,NAME&for=state:06,36

The Hour of CodeCombat

On CodeCombat Blog

Next week, Code.org is putting on the Hour of Code for Computer Science Education Week, and it's going to be epic. Last year they tried to introduce ten million students to coding in one week, but actually they got fifteen million. This year they're going extra global and shooting for a hundred million students, and CodeCombat is happy to help out as one of the tutorial partners that students can choose.

We've been gearing up for this for four months to make an awesome beginner programming experience–the one we all wish we had had when we were younger to show us how much fun coding can be, or even that we could do it at all (no one ever told us). Here's a tiny list of the new stuff we've come up with:

... and all that's just in the last four months! Check out where we were before last year's Hour of Code:

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