Let’s talk languages: in this case, not computer programming languages, but human languages. According to the 2009 edition of the SIL International publication Ethnologue: Languages of the World, the estimated 328 million English speakers in the world are dwarfed by the 1.2 billion people who speak Chinese as a first language. And though English has become the lingua franca of many tech industries, users still prefer to interact with products and services in their native tongue. No doubt this was one of the factors which led FlightStats, Portland-based provider of global flight tracking and airport information, to start offering its FlightStats API data in languages other than English.
As announced in a press release this week, the updated FlightStats Flex APIs will provide “translated flight status responses and flight schedules data, along with airport names, countries, cities, and street addresses.” Right now, only two languages are supported: English (the default) and Simplified Chinese. The company promises that German and Japanese will be available “by mid-December,” and that French, Spanish, Russian, and Brazilian Portuguese are “[a]lso on the roadmap.”
FlightStats APIs support REST and SOAP protocols, and return data formatted in XML or JSON. Specifying a response language is one of the Extended Options, and the two APIs which currently support localization are Airports (airport names, city names, and street addresses) and Schedules and Connections (airport names, airline names, aircraft names, and city names). The company expects localized data to be important for developers working on “[m]obile applications, automotive telematics, website applications, and digital signage in airports and hotels.”
This API update follows other big news for FlightStats this year: in March, they partnered with Georgia-based Innovata, another provider of air travel information; that partnership resulted in the Schedules and Connections API mentioned above. Then, in September, FlightStats opened up its APIs for any developer to try out with a free, usage-limited evaluation plan. Third-party developers who want to continue using FlightStats API data pay monthly fees based on the number of transactions used.