Awesome Automated APIs with Automagic REST

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Huntsman Hall at The Wharton School (UPenn)

3730 Walnut St. · Philadelphia, PA

How to find us

From the Walnut Street entrance, find the first set of elevators, and go up to the third floor. Room 340 will be right at the end of the exit hall of the elevators.

Location image of event venue


Hosted by PostgresPhilly and PhillyPUG at Wharton, Huntsman Hall, room 340.
Doors at 5:30pm, pizza around 6pm, presentation shortly after.

When you have 60,000 tables and views across hundreds of schemata sitting on top of a 3 petabyte storage footprint, automation and access privileges are key if you want to expose these data through a RESTful API. Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS) leverages PostgreSQL , Python, Django, and Django REST Framework to accomplish this. We are continuing to open source the tools we have built to make this possible!

Databases stay relevant by continuing to reinvent themselves to serve new technologies further up the stack. The latest buzzwords further up that stack are APIs and microservices, so prevalent that it is hard to see a tech advertisement that doesn't mention them. While related to "the cloud" and "big data", whatever the heck those terms actually mean, APIs and microservices have a slightly less annoying marketing schtick and more concrete relations to relational databases.

But what do these relations look like in practice? In this talk, Timothy Allen of WRDS will show how his team at The Wharton School has evolved from providing financial data exclusively in SAS data formats to a robust backend powered by PostgreSQL, which allows financial research to happen in many ecosystems: still available in SAS, but also R, Python, Perl, Matlab, Julia, and more. He will present a case study of using Django REST Framework to build an "API through introspection." This case study will show how WRDS built a Django web site and RESTful web service by introspecting financial data stored in a PostgreSQL database cluster.

The models for the ORM, serializers for the RESTful API, views for presenting the data to a user, filters for refining queries, URL routing, web browsable interface, user token authorization, and permissions, are all handled by introspecting various features of the PostgreSQL database information schema, all with Python. Many of these components have been open-sourced, such as the ability to export an endpoint as a spreadsheet file (XLSX), and a generic automated API builder, called Automagic REST.

WRDS is looking for a Python/Django developer and a PostgreSQL developer. If you want to work on an environment like the insanity described above, please contact Tim!