Guest post from Harvard Law J.D. student Aaron Marks:
As the Online Editor for the Harvard National Security Journal, I am the go-to person for many of the Journal’s technical questions. This semester I was able to put my technical skills to use by implementing a new tool that uses the Perma API. The National Security Journal’s fall issue (out now!) contains several hundred weblinks. We wanted to use Perma so that the content at those links would be permanently accessible. But we did not want to manually create Perma archives for hundreds of URLs, which could take some time.
On a hunch, I suspected that Perma might have an API that would enable us to programmatically generate these links. It turned out that not only did Perma have an API, but it was surprisingly simple to setup and use. In just a few hours, I wrote a Ruby application that could import a spreadsheet of URLs, generate Perma archives for those URLs, and output a new spreadsheet that includes the URLs for each new Perma archive.
In addition to programming with the Perma API, the experience let me interact with the Perma support team. This happened when I discovered a bug: on creating a new Perma archive, our custom archive title would revert, after a few seconds, back to the default title that Perma generates when a custom title is not submitted. Luckily the Perma support team was quite responsive after I reported the bug. In fact, they resolved the problem before the Journal published our latest issue.
Although I was a software engineer before coming to law school, I have not coded much in the past three years and so my programming skills were somewhat rusty. Happily, the API was very user-friendly and easily enabled our Journal to programmatically generate Perma archives. I would recommend trying the Perma API to integrate Perma archives into your publication, website, software application, or anything else that links to web-content that you want to be preserved.
PS – Special thanks to Brett and Rebecca from Perma who helped fix the bug that I discovered!
Aaron Marks is a third-year J.D. student at Harvard Law School. He is currently the Online Editor of the Harvard National Security Journal.