New NBN Web Services

NBN web services provide a way of embedding data and maps from the NBN Gateway into other systems and websites.  Web services are used by a wide range of NBN partners for many purposes; to inform environmental decision making, to support the volunteer recording community or simply to help people find out about the wildlife that has been recorded ‘in their backyard’.  A significant portion of the data use from the NBN Gateway comes through implementations of web services, several examples of which are showcased on our data use pages.

The current NBN web services framework is based on a technology known as SOAP, which has the advantage of being able to represent and transfer complex data structures, but the disadvantage that it is relatively complicated to implement.
We have therefore developed a suite of so called “RESTful” services that are much easier to implement.  These will be ready for release during the second half of this year.  Before then, we will work closely with a small group of users to help them develop an implementation of the new services, which will help us to refine and document the services prior to wider release.  

If you are considering using NBN web services, we strongly recommend that you wait until the new RESTful services are released, rather than developing against the existing SOAP services.

The current SOAP services will continue to function off the old Gateway database even after the new site is released. This means that any implementations of the web services will continue to function without any additional action but the data they are running against will gradually go out of date as new and updated data will only be loaded onto the new Gateway. We are currently developing a strategy for migrating current implementations of the SOAP web services to work off the new database by identifying the implementations and ascertaining how much flexibility and desire there is to adopt the new, more flexible suite.

Users of the EasiMap web services do not need to take any action.  EasiMap is a tool created by the Biological Records Centre to embed a grid map in an iFrame, and is used on websites such as the Orthoptera Recording Scheme and the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat.  We will rewrite this to run off the new RESTful web services, so EasiMap users will not notice any difference except that the area covered by the grid map will increase to include the Channel Islands.  
We are contacting all users of SOAP web services that we are aware of, to discuss their requirements and how we can support them through this change. 
Important – we may not be aware of every implementation of web services, so if your organisation uses SOAP web services and we have not yet contacted you, please contact us on

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