A website lets people interact with computers over the Internet. A web service on the other hand, lets computers interact with computers over the Internet. We’ve created a web service for WikiPathways so people can write computer scripts to do interesting new things with WikiPathways. This is all described in great detail in an article that was recently published in PLoS One.
Mining biological pathways using WikiPathways web services.
Kelder T, Pico AR, Hanspers K, van Iersel MP, Evelo C, Conklin BR.
PLoS One. 2009 Jul 30;4(7):e6447.
Naturally it’s open access, so you can read it all online. From the article:
The WikiPathways web service provides an interface for programmatic access to community-curated pathway information. [...] The web service can be used by software developers to build or extend tools for analysis and integration of pathways, interaction networks and experimental data. The web services are also useful for assisting and monitoring the community-based curation process. By providing this web service, we hope to help researchers and developers build tools for pathway-based research and data analysis.
Automated access, plus the fact that all content is available under a Creative Commons license, should make WikiPathways even more useful as a scientific resource. It will be interesting to see what kind of uses people will come up with.