The smartAPI initiative: making Web APIs FAIR

Presenting Author Information 


Michel Dumontier


Stanford University

BD2K Grant Number



Michel Dumontier

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(650) 497-3260

Additional Author Information 

Michel Dumontier1, Amrapali Zaveri1, Shima Dastgheib1, Trish Whetzhel2, Andrew Su2, Chunlei Wu2

1Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research, Stanford University, CA, USA;

2The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA

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Abstract Title

The smartAPI initiative: making Web APIs FAIR

Abstract Description

Biomedical data analysis is increasingly undertaken using cloud-based, web-friendly application programming interfaces (APIs). However, sifting through API repositories to find the right tools presents a number of formidable challenges: users must not only supply the right combination of search terms to find relevant APIs, but must also closely examine the API outputs to determine how they can be connected together. This task is made more difficult because the APIs generally lack the rich metadata needed to precisely describe the service and the data that it operates on. However, authoring good metadata is seen as tedious and unrewarding, unless they can be demonstrated as useful to users.

The aim of the smartAPI interoperability pilot was to explore the use of semantic technologies such as ontologies and Linked Data for the annotation, discovery, linking, and reuse of smart web APIs. Smart web APIs are easier to discover by enabling more search using their rich semantic metadata, and eliminate data silos by providing Linked Data. We developed the smartAPI metadata specification through a community-based effort that involved surveying and comparing API metadata from multiple repositories as well as multiple API metadata specifications. We extended the Swagger Editor to suggest fields from the smartAPI specification and values from the smartAPI repository and a novel tool to profile the output of an API. The smartAPI repository offers a faceted search user interface coupled with an API for storage, retrieval, field-specific suggestion, and global search over smartAPI descriptions. We are currently working in the context of the CFWG for API interoperability to annotate APIs and evaluate our tools in the context of utility and usability.


Release Date: 
November 29, 2016
CEDAR SmartAPI Poster for BD2K AHM
Author List: 
Michel Dumontier, Amrapali Zaveri, Shima Dastgheib, Trish Whetzhel, Andrew Su, Chunlei Wu
Artifact Type: 
Last Updated: 
May 12 2017 - 1:44pm