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EDirect Overview


Please note: following the release of the new version of PubMed, the results returned by E-utilities queries of PubMed may differ slightly from those returned in the web version of PubMed. A new PubMed API is currently under development: more information will be announced when available.


EDirect is a software package, developed by NCBI, which allows you to use the E-utilities API in a Unix environment. It helps you quickly and easily use the E-utilities API, and has built-in tools to extract specific data from XML files and create tables of data that can be more easily analyzed or visualized.

This overview will explain more about what EDirect is, how it works, and why it might be useful to you. If you are familiar with E-utilities, but new to Unix and/or EDirect, we suggest you start at the beginning, but if you are already familiar with some of these topics, feel free to skip ahead to the sections that interest you. If you are completely unfamiliar with E-utilities and the basic concept of an API, you may want to review our Insider’s Guide Overview before proceeding.

  1. What is Unix?
  2. Working with Unix
  3. What’s the difference between EDirect and E-utilities?
  4. Making data pipelines with the History server
  5. Customizing your output format with EDirect
  6. Building practical solutions

If you are already familiar with EDirect, and are looking for documentation on EDirect commands, please review our EDirect Documentation section.