Tag Archives: methods

VIDEO: Understanding API jargon for data journalists

Yesterday I shared a video introducing APIs for data journalists. In this video — first made for students on the MA in Data Journalism at Birmingham City University and shared as part of a series of video posts — I explain some of the jargon you’re likely to come across when using an API.

That includes ‘functions’ and ‘methods’ that allow you to request certain types of data; ‘arguments’ that allow you to specify what you want data about, or what format; and API ‘keys’ that act as passwords to access the data.

Links mentioned in the video:

Coding for journalists: 10 programming concepts it helps to understand

If you’re looking to get into coding chances are you’ll stumble across a raft of jargon which can be off-putting, especially in tutorials which are oblivious to your lack of previous programming experience. Here, then, are 10 concepts you’re likely to come across – and what they mean.

1. Variables

cat in a box

Variables are like boxes which can hold different things at different times. Image by Wolfgang Lonien.

A variable is one of the most basic elements of programming. It is, in a nutshell, a way of referring to something so that you can use it in a line of code. To give some examples:

  • You might create a variable to store a person’s age and call it ‘age’
  • You might create a variable to store the user’s name and call it ‘username’
  • You might create a variable to count how many times something has happened and call it ‘counter’
  • You might create a variable to store something’s position and call it ‘index’

Variables can be changed, which is their real power. A user’s name will likely be different every time one piece of code runs. An age can be added to at a particular time of year. A counter can increase by one every time something happens. A list of items can have other items added to it, or removed. Continue reading