Tinkering With EntrezAjax

English: Logo of the United States National Ce...

English: Logo of the United States National Center for Biotechnology Information, a part of the National Library of Medicine, itself part of the National Institutes of Health. Français : Logo du NCBI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I was working on a web project, and I wanted to see how feasible it would be to build a web application that had no back end.  No database, or app server, just a simple web page, some JavaScript and some data.

Since I also needed to fetch data from EntrezGene, and other NCBI web sites, I decided that’d I try out the EntrezAjax RESTful web service.  Unlike NCBI’s eUtils API, EntrezAjax returns the results of queries as JSON datagrams, which makes it easier to integrate it into your web page.

The other nice thing about it is that it allows you to chain queries together.  For example, in most cases, I don’t want to do a PubMed search, parse the article IDs that it returns, and turn around and fetch those PubMed records.  That’s just a waste of time.  I want to do the search and get useable data in one transaction, and EntrezAjax lets me do that.

The other nice thing about it is that it’s hosted on Google’s Appspot cloud infrastructure. Which means that the infrastructure can expand to meet the demands placed on it by developers.

If you’d like to give it a try, go here and signup for an API key.  You’ll need the key in order to run queries.   You can read more about it here.

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About Mark Fortner

I write software for scientists. I'm interested in Java/Groovy/Grails, the Semantic Web and Cancer Biology.
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One Response to Tinkering With EntrezAjax

  1. Chris Maloney says:

    We are coming out with a JSON output format for E-utilities very soon — hopefully within the month. Also, take a look at this proof-of-concept web site that I’ve been working on in my spare time: http://eutils.org/. Feedback welcome!

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