Kimono is a web service that allows you to “Turn websites into structured APIs from your browser in seconds”. It’s basically a tool that will ‘scrape’ other websites and return the data in a format that you can use (JSON,RSS,CSV).
I finally had a chance to play around with Kimono last week, it’s still in beta but it’s really cool.
How it works:
You signup, install a browser extension & visit the website you would like to scrape. You then select the data you’d like to capture to create a ‘collection’ which then becomes your API. This video explains it well:
My experiment: “Surf’s up” notifications
I like to surf, as Melbourne is a couple of hours from the closest surf beach, I thought it would be awesome if I could have a couple of days notice if the surf is forecast to be good. (I realise this is a first world problem, having to remember to check the forecast every day but I thought I could easily solve this).
Step 1: The data
The data I wanted is available on the Swellnet surf forecasting website, all of the forecast data I need is in the table on the bottom of the Phillip Island page.
Using Kimono I was able to create a JSON API which contains the day, date, wind direction & swell size (for the next 5 days).
Step 2: Automation & notifications
Now I had the data structured in an easy to use format I could do anything with it. Next I needed to filter this data and find out if the conditions are ideal of me (Offshore winds – Northerly in this case).
So to do this turned to Zapier, If you haven’t heard of Zapier it’s a web service that can connect your apps to automate your work.
Zapier allows you to filter the Kimono data, so I was able to setup a ‘Zap’ that would check the Kimono feed every 5 minutes.
If the wind direction is forecast to be Northly I wanted to know!
I had so many options here, I could send an SMS, tweet, create a card in trello however I decided to keep it simple and send myself an email notification.
As you can see from this basic example Kimono could become a really powerful tool as it saves having to code (and maintain) your own web crawlers. Checkout a gallery of other things built with Kimono.
Kimono has a feature called ‘app builder’ so with a couple of clicks you can get a responsive web app / website like this.