PSMFC Fisheries Information Network Newsletter

Improving FIN Data Access Through Web Services

Rob Ames

The FIN programs provide essential services to our partners and users by consolidating and integrating fisheries-related data into functional information. These data are only useful if they are readily available and easily consumed. To this end, the FIN programs have spent significant resources developing and customizing applications to fit the needs of our diverse user community, from Business Intelligence products to online querying tools and reports. Each customized application has advantages and disadvantages with no perfect solution for all users.

Web services (or web APIs) provide advantages over other applications used to access data stored within the FIN databases. The current FIN web service utilizes the Oracle Representational State Transfer Data Services, or ORDS. The advantage of ORDS is it can be deployed quickly and efficiently on any data object or data product within the FIN databases and can include zero to many data request parameters (e.g., fish species). Moreover, it can be deployed as an open URL to download non-confidential data, or can be deployed requiring authentication using OAuth2 protocols for secure data access and transfer to client computers or servers. In either instance, end users can access data products via these simplified URLs without any need for database interactions. Other advantages include the ability of users to automate their analyses and data visualizations for repeatability and simplified access.

As an example, the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) is currently providing biweekly updates on sea surface temperatures in the Bering Sea via social media (See Current Sea Surface Temperatures in the Eastern Bering Sea in this issue). These data are provided by the FIN web service and the visualization is produced in R by AFSC. This example of an automated process illustrates the role that FIN web services can provide to our partners and users.

For more information regarding FIN web services, please contact Rob Ames.