2014-01-22

Co.Labs

Kimono Could Be The Gateway Drug To Finally Get You Coding

This has got to be the easiest way to build a web app.



It doesn’t matter what side of the argument you fall on--whether you think everyone should learn to code or not. Kimono is a new tool that makes the act of scraping a website for its structured data to turn into an API (or an app) much quicker than picking a side in the debate. Pretty soon anyone with an idea for manipulating data will be able to in a few clicks, programming experience or not.

Kimono is a bookmarklet that activates visual, click-to-define, datasets and then turns those into a structured API or directly produces a dynamic web app. The idea of visual programming, using some sort of WYSIWYG editor to build apps has grown steadily, but until now the options have been too complicated or too simplified. Google tried with its Android App Inventor and more recently Microsoft has tried with its Windows Phone App Studio. Both aimed big, but couldn’t deliver on the promise to build anything desirable. With Kimono, however, the results produced with the clicks at least align with expectations.

Getting started extracting data can be covered with the minute-and-a-half introduction video. The supplemental videos, which are also short, round out the product a little further. Once you’ve clicked on data and created an API, you’re presented different code snippets-–Curl, jQuery, Node, PHP, Python, and Rudy--ready to copy and paste.

Poking around, I quickly made a daily updating web app of articles written for Fast Company. I also made one for movie times at a local theater as well as top songs from YouTube. Beyond your own imagination, Kimono is currently limited to non-authenticating sites, but the developer has said it’s something they’re working on.

Even though it may be obvious to the developer community the benefit for companies to allow access via API, a lot of big corporations still don’t see it that way. Rhapsody is a great example of a first mover that wanted to do everything in-house and couldn’t keep up with demand. Rhapsody made itself irrelevant just as competition from Rdio and Spotify heated up, and not allowing access may eventually lead to it going out of business.

Then again, Kimono offering anyone the ability to turn a site’s data into a structured API in seconds may flip the whole conversation on its head. If successful, the choice to offer an API may no longer lie with a company, but in the hands of a third-party developer.