FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What is Bloomberg announcing?
The Bloomberg API (BLPAPI) interface has been released under a “free-use” MIT-style license. This permits the unrestricted use and distribution of the interface’s header files, documentation and programming examples, but does not apply to Bloomberg content or services.
Bloomberg subscribers, non-Bloomberg customers, vendors and software developers can use this technology as an alternative to proprietary interfaces for market data distribution. Using the BLPAPI interface, developers can create adapters that feed market data into proprietary applications, without hampering infrastructure enhancements with restrictive license agreements.
Bloomberg hopes opening the BLPAPI interface will remove unnecessary layers of complexity in market data operations and foster an ecosystem of open tools and software that will give the technical community ultimate flexibility to decide what technology they want to use.
2. What does the BLPAPI interface offer?
The BLPAPI interface that Bloomberg is now opening is leveraged by Bloomberg’s Desktop and Server API products (DAPI, SAPI), as well as by B-Pipe and Platform. It is built on a flexible service-oriented architecture and supports both request/response and publish/subscribe paradigms.
The BLPAPI interface powers global market data distribution to desktops, workgroups and enterprise applications. It is used daily by more than 100,000 Bloomberg customers and tens of thousands of financial applications are built on it. The BLPAPI interface has been proven across many dimensions, reflecting the breadth of Bloomberg’s customer base, industry experience and service offerings. The BLPAPI supports:
- A variety of programming languages including C, C++, Java, .NET, COM, and Perl
- Several OS platforms including Linux, Windows, and Solaris
- All asset classes in tandem with Bloomberg’s Open Symbology (BSYM) and other identifiers
- Functional pieces, including entitlement, authentication, reference data and interactive calculations (for example, an application may query by supplying its own input values), and publish/subscribe. The request/response and subscription paradigms have other applications as well (for example, order submission).
- A flexible service-oriented model, which allows new products to be offered without interface updates.
3. What are the benefits of adopting BLPAPI?
The BLPAPI interface powers global market data distribution to desktops, workgroups and enterprise applications. Adopters of the BLPAPI interface will join a community of more than 100,000 Bloomberg customers that use the technology every day as well as developers of tens of thousands of financial applications.
Building applications to an open interface gives users more flexibility to migrate to an alternative market data provider without significant migration costs. By opening BLPAPI, Bloomberg hopes to eliminate “friction” to using its services, including fear of vendor lock-in. We also hope the free-use license and use cases on http://www.openbloomberg.com will encourage experimentation and dialogue among the technical community.
4. What does Bloomberg intend to do with BLPAPI?
Bloomberg’s Open Market Data Initiative is focused on creating open standards for market data, covering symbology, programming interfaces, data schemas and, eventually, protocols. For programming interfaces, the first step was to make our existing interfaces free-use, removing restrictions attached to header files and sample code. This allows clients, vendors and other 3rd parties to freely adopt our interface for their own use, or as an adaptor to other products, thereby alleviating the issue of vendor lock-in. The path towards an open specification will promote true interoperability within the industry, even between competing vendors.
In the course of defining an open standard, an open source reference implementation may be released, but we believe that that it is important to our client community, and the financial community as a whole, to make the BLPAPI interface free-use now. For our customers as well as other participants in the financial technology space, the free-use release of the interface is actually the more important step. This gives them the freedom to start standardizing their own applications on a widely-used, free interface.
In the future, Bloomberg hopes to submit the BLPAPI interface as a candidate for open standardization. Bloomberg will encourage the formation of an independent standards committee, comprised of vendors and Bloomberg customers. The committee’s mandate would be to design successive versions of the interface, define standards, and create compliance tests.
Successive releases of BLPAPI will come with the same MIT-style licensing terms is given in the Open Market Data Initiative whitepaper, available at http://www.openbloomberg.com. Minor incompatible changes may be introduced with later releases of the BLPAPI interface as it evolves into a vendor-independent, open standard. For example, options specific to Bloomberg as a service provider may be moved into a generic configuration object.
5. How will opening the BLPAPI interface impact Bloomberg’s customers and others?
Customers will continue to have access to the BLPAPI interface as subscribers to Bloomberg market data technologies including DAPI, SAPI, B-Pipe and Platform. Because of the free-use license Bloomberg has applied, we hope non-Bloomberg customers, consultants, third party vendors, students and others will leverage the work and investment Bloomberg made in the BLPAPI interface to develop an ecosystem of market data applications.
6. How will the BLPAPI interface be supported?
Bloomberg customers and subscribers to Bloomberg’s market data interface packages (i.e. DAPI, SAPI, etc) will continue to receive support from Bloomberg’s customer service and product development teams.
API users who are not (or not yet) Bloomberg customers will soon have a public discussion forum where they can participate in the global API user community, ask questions about API usage, and help to answer others’ questions to build an API knowledge base.
The free-use MIT-style license gives users a lot of flexibility to develop applications that leverage the BLPAPI interface’s technology, without cost or restriction.
7. How can developers using BLPAPI test functionality?
BLPAPI can be used for “subscriptions” (real-time data), “requests” (historical / reference data), and “publishing” (submitting data to Bloomberg). Testing any of that functionality currently requires a valid Bloomberg Desktop API (DAPI), Server API (SAPI) or B-Pipe subscription. Bloomberg is planning on releasing a stand-alone simulator which will not require a subscription.
8. Whom can I contact with additional questions?
If you have questions about the licensing, installation or distribution of the Open API, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about using the Open API to access data from your Bloomberg subscription, contact Bloomberg’s Global Customer Support (press HELP-HELP on your Bloomberg terminal, or call the nearest support contact number in your region).