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Yahoo Opens Shopping Database to Devs

Yahoo further opened its corporate data coffers on Tuesday with the release of Yahoo Shopping APIs.

The application programming interfaces (APIs) will let software developers and Web publishers tap into the product database and comparison shopping application that powers the Web portal's shopping service.

"Yahoo is very interested in providing open APIs and Web services to its network," said Chris Saito, Yahoo senior director of product management. "Our goal is to enable any developer or Web site to create interesting applications that leverage Yahoo services and data."

The APIs include product search results and merchant or price comparison; Yahoo has provided sample code and documentation. It also offers APIs for its Flickr photo-sharing, search and maps services. The APIs, hosted by the Yahoo Developer Network, are based on XML results and HTTP .

Using the Shopping API, developers can write applications that search the Yahoo Shopping database and display search results with prices.

The Product Search API allows third-party applications to search by keyword, specifying the search by merchant, price range or product category. It also allows users to filter merchants according to their user ratings. The Price Comparison Grid API gives developers access to search results that compare base price, taxes, shipping and the total price based on the ZIP code.

"We think a lot of cool applications will come out of releasing the APIs," Saito said. "Developers will have access to world-class services in shopping, with millions of products in the database."

Saito wouldn't comment on plans to release APIs for Yahoo Auctions, beyond saying, "We'll add more and more APIs over the next few months."

Yahoo's rival Google has been enthusiastic about letting developers build off its services, which is something Yahoo was slower to embrace.

Google opened its first APIs in April 2002. However, since the launch of the Yahoo Developer Network in March, Yahoo has been racing to catch up.

In July, Yahoo bought Pixoria, the company that created the Konfabulator, a JavaScript run-time engine for feeding information from Web servers into small desktop applications.

Online marketplace eBay makes much of its developer APIs, which let online merchants, ISVs, Web publishers, partners and independent developers have free rein with its data stores.

Yahoo Auctions hasn't made much headway against the eBay juggernaut, although Saito said that eliminating listing fees and cutting sales commissions helped Yahoo's auction services grow "dramatically."

He noted that eBay auctions and merchants are part of the Yahoo Shopping database, so that eBay is as much a partner as a competitor.

"We're very interested in providing products from all over the Web," Saito said, "including from eBay and other e-commerce sites, as well as other large and small merchants."