A little while back, I was informed that the V&A had an API. To be honest, my first response to this was “why on earth?”. There’s been a few similar APIs coming out recently from organisations, with some sort of “build it and they’ll come” expectations i.e. expecting that all they have to do is provide the API and all us developers will automagically build them shiny apps for free. If you’re TfL, then this kinda works, but it’s not so true for a lot of places.
Having had this initial reaction, I still decided to dig through the documentation a bit, and spotted an interesting nugget – they’ll let you do geospatial searches. I’d been tinkering around with the idea of playing with this, especially for use with my shiny new Android phone, and I had an a idea for a little app to show you “nearby art” i.e. search with the V&A’s API for the nearest bit of art.
One thing you have to be careful about is that this can break in various ways. The most obvious is a lack of navigator.geoLocation (any version of IE, and all not-latest versions of most other browsers), and another is if the user denies access to their location data. This does make navigator.geoLocation unsuitable for general use currently, but it’s a useful source of data when there is support.