Interesting post over at the interoperability @ Microsoft blog on viewing public government data with Windows Azure and PHP. The post outlines a functional example of a governmental cloud interoperability scenario using REST.
The demo is part of Microsoft's Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) a cloud-based collection of software assets that enables publicly available government data to be easily accessible. Using open standards and application programming interfaces (API), developers and government agencies can retrieve the data programmatically for use in new and innovative online applications, or mashups.
The scenario uses publicly available government data sets that have been loaded into Windows Azure Storage, and the OGDI team built a data service that exposes the data through REST web services, returning data by default in the Atom Publishing Protocol format. The OGDI application uses ADO.NET Data Services to expose the data. On the diagram below you see the list of available data sets: http://ogdi.cloudapp.net/v1/dc.
This list is then accessed by the data browser web application built in PHP. To build the PHP applications the Toolkit for PHP with ADO.NET Data Services was used by simply generating the PHP proxy classes that would match the data sets exposed through REST at this URI: http://ogdi.cloudapp.net/v1/dc.
Trying out the sample application
The PHP Data browser sample application is deployed on Windows Azure. Although it is not required and it could be deployed on any PHP compatible hosting environment, this sample application showcases a PHP application running on Azure. You can view or download the source of this sample from the demo site: http://ogdiphpsample.cloudapp.net/
The OGDI Service demonstrates some of the possibilities of the Azure platform and you can try the OGDI interactive SDK http://ogdisdk.cloudapp.net to understand how it works, as it features a similar data browser developed in .NET.