Building a Better Web
June 19–20, 2017: Training
June 20–22, 2017: Tutorials & Conference
San Jose, CA

Your data deserves an API: Transforming and sharing humanities data with LoopBack

Erin McKean (Google | Wordnik)
11:00am–11:40am Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Web Services and APIs
Location: 212 A/B
Secondary topics:  Case studies and comparisons, JavaScript frameworks and libraries (Angular, React, Ember, Vue, etc.)
Average rating: ****.
(4.67, 3 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • API developers, digital humanists, and data enthusiasts

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A basic understanding of APIs and a passing familiarity with Node.js

What you'll learn

  • Learn how to create a simple API for even complicated legacy datasets
  • Explore Loopback, an open source Node framework for quickly creating CRUD APIs


There is more data available today than ever before, but available datasets are not necessarily accessible datasets. Datasets often languish because they lack easily accessible APIs, or worse, precious research time is spent recreating tools needed to work with data. Erin McKean explains how to build and deploy a useful API for a legacy dataset with LoopBack, an open source Node API framework, as she walks you through creating a clean, modern API from WordNet, an openly licensed dataset that is downloadable as a (complicated) MySQL database.

You might think that creating an API for a legacy dataset or database is too time consuming or involved, but with Loopback, you can go from gnarly old SQL to shiny APIs in a remarkably short time. With Loopback, what’s important is knowledge of your data. If you know your data, Loopback makes it simple to create CRUD APIs and straightforward to create APIs for custom methods, as well. With Loopback, you’ll want to API all the data.

Topics include:

  • Connecting Loopback to your data
  • Customizing Loopback models
  • Creating custom Loopback methods
  • Using the visual explorer
  • Exporting Swagger definitions
Photo of Erin McKean

Erin McKean

Google | Wordnik

Erin McKean is the founder of the newly not-for-profit, the world’s biggest online dictionary, and developer relations program manager at Google. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of American Dictionaries for Oxford University Press. Before JavaScript, she dabbled in HyperCard, Perl, and Omnimark. (If you’ve ever written anything in Omnimark, she’ll buy you a drink.) Erin’s the author of the Weird and Wonderful Words books, the best-selling novel The Secret Lives of Dresses, and, most recently, The Hundred Dresses, a field guide to dresses. She blogs at When you meet her, please tell her your favorite word.