[iRail] [Updating everyone] API - Goals and specification

Koen Delvaux delvauxkoen at gmail.com
Fri Aug 6 16:36:58 UTC 2010

I think what you road is a good start of a project manifesto.
To support the initiative I asked @pekesenertjes (Steven Van Gaever) to give
it some PR exposure. To put him on the right track, I wrote the following
together with Yeri:


Steven will or has contacted Yeri to see what they can do with
Communicatiemannen. Maybe you want to add your project manifesto as a

2010/8/6 Pieter Colpaert <pieter.colpaert at gmail.com>

> Dear List,
> Yeri started almost 2 years ago with only one goal in mind: A simple
> mobile application that anyone could use to find information for his
> train connection. As he was proud to have written an application that
> snappy he informed the NMBS/SNCB with an e-mail. Their reply (after 2
> years) however, was quite surprising.
> After the letter of the NMBS/SNCB asking iRail.be to stop, the buzz
> started. Instead of closing the iRail.be down he, after consideration
> with Ywein Van den Brande, decided to put it back online and open
> sourcing it all. Apparently that was a good decision because else you
> would not be reading this.
> * The Goals
> For this project to succeed, we'd like to achieve 3 goals:
>  1. Mobile train schedules for all mobile devices by taking the KISS
> (Keep It Short & Simple) principle into account. This was the first goal
> and it has more or less been achieved by Yeri. With an average of ~120
> users/day iRail.be is currently providing a good service.
> The next 2 goals are not at all achieved yet. They were only added
> recently, after the NMBS/SNCB letter.
>  2. Open transport data and an official API. Our webscraping API is only
> a temporal solution and should disappear as soon as possible. The
> NMBS/SNCB should make an *open-source* API theirselves and provide us
> with *open* data: the trainschedules.
>  3. An international API specification. We want to be able to use the
> same calls and get the same responses with the German or French railway
> system, as with the Belgium one. We already have the SNCF guy on the
> mailinglist, and we're hoping for German people pretty soon too. All
> other European countries should follow our example of course. Imagine
> what this could mean for a client developer: implementing a system that
> returns the fastest connection from Orange (France) to Berlin (=
> ultimate goal)
> As a secondary goal of course we will need a lot of awesome people that
> use this API to create things we could never have dreamed of. For
> instance Christophe wrote a chat application that enables you to chat
> with people in the same train. Someone else is writing an application
> that will show live tables of a station on you mobile device, someone
> else is using the API to make a subscribe to this train service (and if
> it experiences delays, we will notify you in time), and so on.
> * Specification
> As for now, the specification of the iRail.be API you can find here:
> http://wiki.github.com/Tuinslak/iRail/api
> We need however to discuss this properly and when enough people from
> different countries have responded we will do a chat session to see what
> API calls are necessary and what values should be returned. If there are
> already additions at this moment, feel free to reply those on this
> mailinglist.
> Yours sincerely,
> Pieter Colpaert
> _______________________________________________
> iRail mailing list
> iRail at list.irail.be
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