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Hackathon innovations: David Cohen discusses his Health Graph Java wrapper

January 3, 2012

We’re finishing off 2011 with another Health Graph (@healthgraphapi) library partner profile. Below we speak with developer David Cohen about his work on a Java wrapper for the Health Graph API. If you’re a Java programmer interested in hacking health, you should definitely check it out!

Bill Day: Please tell us about yourself and your interest in the Health Graph API.

David Cohen: I am a senior software developer for Isobar North America, focusing mostly on back-end development in the worlds of Java and PHP. I also box on a (very) amateur level and am in the very early contemplative stages of what kind of Health Graph application I could develop to work with that.

After participating in Isobar’s Create 48 NFC Hackathon as part of Team Beer Pants Meeting, I became aware of and interested in working with the Health Graph API through a series of similar hackathon events hosted by Terrible Labs.

BD: Why did you develop your own Java wrapper for accessing the Health Graph API?

DC: In the setting of a series of shorter hackathons – being a few hours at a time rather than a marathon over the course of several days – developing a wrapper in a language that I was already familiar with seemed like a great way to both become familiar with the new API and to provide a tool that would be of use to Java developers who wanted to created Health Graph applications in the future.

BD: Which portions of the Health Graph API does your wrapper support? Do you use all of them in your own application?

DC: The wrapper is currently a work in progress, but the goal is to have it support the entire Health Graph API. I do not currently have my own application built off of the wrapper but I do hope to be able to use it for application development in the near future.

BD: Are there any portions of the Health Graph API that you don’t currently support but plan to in the future?

DC: There are plenty of portions that are still works in progress, but nothing that isn’t currently being worked on in terms of support.

BD: What do you like about the Health Graph? What would you like to see changed?

DC: I love the depth of data potentially represented by the Health Graph. It’s hard to look at API specifications and not have at least a few ideas for a mash-up application come to mind.

The only problem I see is right now is one that most new projects, especially ones with a large scope, suffer from: The documentation could use some improvements. It should call out specific changes when API updates are made.

BD: If you could request any new feature from the Health Graph, what would it be? How would you use it?

DC: Having not really worked on the application development layer yet, my new feature request might not be ground-breakingly exciting but I would love to see an API call added that contained a map of the MIME types with keys that would not change, so that I could dynamically create my MIME type maps for wrapper calls and not have to worry about getting bad requests when the API updates.

BD: Can you share any future plans for your wrapper? What’s coming next that Health Graph developers may be excited about?

DC: Once the wrapper is stable and contains all of the current API features, I plan on writing a sample application that will give developers a good place to start implementing the features contained within the Health Graph and wrapper. After that I may even start working on an application of my own!

BD: Is there anything else we should know about you or your wrapper?

DC: Just that so far it has been a great experience working with the Health Graph and the RunKeeper team. You all have been nothing short of extraordinarily helpful and ready to answer all of my requests and point out when my “bug reports” are real or just me implementing something poorly. So thanks!

(Editor’s note: You can see David and Team Beer Pants Meeting in action at Isobar’s hackathon around 3:16 into the video below.)

Isobar Create 48 NFC Hackathon from Isobar US on Vimeo.

Cross-posted from the Health Graph blog.


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