Introduction to the VertNet API

stuckyb edited this page Apr 8, 2014 · 2 revisions


The VertNet Web API is accessed using HTTP and is located at the domain All API requests are sent as JSON objects. The following API functions are currently available.

  • search: provides direct querying of VertNet data and returns results as JSON objects
  • download: also provides direct querying of VertNet data, but returns results as tab-delimited text files
  • feedback: used for reporting data issues

Click any of the links above to read the full documentation for an API function.

Which API function should I use?

If your goal is to search for and retrieve VertNet data, you will want to use either the search or download API functions. These two functions have a common interface for specifying queries, but the ways in which they return their results are quite different.

The search function returns its results as soon as they are available by wrapping matching VertNet records inside a JSON response object. Thus, calls to the search function are "blocking" in the sense that a response is not returned until the first records matching the search query have been retrieved.

In contrast, calls to the download function return immediately without sending any VertNet data records back to the client. Instead, download API calls must include an email address that will be contacted once the search is complete. The entire result set is assembled as a tab-delimited text file and a download link is provided in the email.

For programmatic access to VertNet data and immediate manipulation of search results, the API search function will usually be the best choice. On the other hand, bulk downloading of large sets of VertNet records for later use is best accomplished with the API download function.