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EBay Opens Wide With More APIs

Developers are a key part of eBay's community, making it easier for buyers and sellers to connect and transact. The online auction site is now going to open up its platforms even further to developers with a series of new APIs that enable even more interaction with eBay's services.

Among the new APIs that eBay is rolling out is one that developers have been asking about for years, a bidding API.

"In the past developers have used scraping tools to do things with bidding, which eBay has not encouraged," Max Mancini, senior director of eBay's disruptive innovation team, told internetnews.com. "And now people can do bidding-type applications with these new APIs."

The eBay Bidding API will enable developers to integrate bidding functionality into third-party applications and sites; users won't be tied strictly to eBay.com to bid anymore.

A new eBay Client Alert API is also being developed, which promises users near real-time alerts from eBay about activity.

Not only is eBay opening up more of its platform, it's also attempting to make access to its platform faster, too. EBay said the new Shopping Web Services APIs are 16 times faster than older APIs. The Shopping Web Services are structured around eBay search.

"These APIs support token-less calls. This means they're structured to return only data specifically required for the call," Mancini explained. "In the past, big calls would return lots and lots of XML, when the developer may have only required two or three pieces of it.

"So we've trimmed down the result set so people get what they are most likely after based on feedback from developers about what they're most often requiring."

Scale is also on the table for eBay's revised APIs. EBay had limited developers to only 10,000 API calls per month. Now eBay has upped the number to 150,000 a month, and it won't cost developers a dime. Since 2005 eBay has offered access to its APIs for free.

Most eBay users access eBay through their Web browser, though that is a paradigm that expanded APIs and a new beta program may one day change.

Project San Dimas is an eBay desktop application built on Adobe's Apollo platform now called AIR. Mancini explained that San Dimas brings the eBay.com marketplace from the Web to users' desktops. AJAX, Flash, and other technologies become more accessible with San Dimas, allowing the members of the eBay Developers Program to easily bring full-blown applications and not just widgets to user desktop.

San Dimas is currently in an invitation-only beta, though Mancini noted that as eBay gets more feedback, it'll expand the beta so more people can participate.