Yahoo opens up search platform to developers

Yahoo Inc. is for the first time opening up its search platform so that external developers can create search applications that tap the vendor's search infrastructure, Yahoo is announcing Tuesday. The portal company is also expanding access to the Overture advertising network to more developers.

With the launch on Tuesday of the Yahoo Developer Network, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo is providing access to application programming interfaces (API) for a variety of its search services, including Web, image, video, news and local searches.

Meanwhile, Yahoo is also broadening access to the Overture APIs, which have been available to high-volume advertisers for several years. Now, other types of Overture users, such as search-engine marketers and smaller advertisers, will be allowed access to the APIs.

"Yahoo can't be everything to everybody," said Eckart Walther, head of product management for Yahoo Search. "This is the first time we're providing formal APIs to developers to write new search applications that run on top of our infrastructure. There are hundreds of ideas [for search applications] we haven't thought of that will be enabled by these APIs."

For example, a developer could create a tool that allows users to display Yahoo search results in a different way, he said. Or the webmaster of a site focused on a particular area or city could use the APIs to build functionality into the site that delivers either automatically or on demand a list of local restaurants obtained from the Yahoo Local service, he said.

The Yahoo Developer Network, offers registered developers a variety of features, such as access to the APIs, sample code, discussion groups, mailing lists and a section that showcases applications created by developers.

The staff at 10e20 LLC, a Web site design and search-engine marketing company, plans to work late into the night exploring the Yahoo Developer Network and trying out the APIs, said Chris Winfield, New York-based 10e20's president. "This is just a real outstretched hand to the search-engine marketing community. It'll be fun to see what we come up with the rest of night," he said.

The open APIs will let 10e20 create Web-based applications for Yahoo search services and desktop-based applications for Overture services, as well as give the company a better overall understanding of the inner workings of the Yahoo network, Winfield said. "This is a big thing. There's a lot there. They've done a really nice job," Winfield said.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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