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Yahoo! unveils Ajax Web services

Leveraging its 2004 acquistion of Oddpost Inc., Yahoo! has released four new Ajax-based Web services APIs.

As Web developers know, other than the clever acronym Ajax (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is not all that new.

"We had a group inside Yahoo! working on Ajax applications for years before they were called Ajax," says Ash Patel, chief product officer for Yahoo! Inc.

 We had a group inside Yahoo! working on Ajax applications for years before they were called Ajax.
Ash Patel
Chief Product OfficerYahoo!

Yesterday it flexed that Ajax muscle, releasing four new Web services APIs with a distinct Ajax bent.

In 2004, Yahoo! acquired Oddpost Inc., a group of developers who were working on applications going beyond the static HTML back-and-forth server calls by using JavaScript and XML to get a desktop look and feel for Web-based applications. Patel points to the recently released Yahoo! Mail beta as a culmination of Oddpost pre-Ajax work.

"It has the look and feel of a desktop application with drag-and-drop and features you expect on the desktop," he said.

In support of developers seeking to build their own Ajax applications on Yahoo!, Patel points to the Yahoo! Developer Network that includes an online Ajax API Reference Manual. It offers developer tips and code samples for working with the APIs.

Patel presented Yahoo!'s latest on Ajax yesterday at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego where he announced the company is releasing four new Web services APIs. He added this is part of the Yahoo! commitment to open its APIs to developers.

Two of the APIs being released are for the calendaring and photo sharing features on the Yahoo! Website, which Patel called the top applications in those two fields. Rounding out the four APIs will be ones for the My Web search engine and Yahoo!'s shopping applications.

The Yahoo! commitment to open source is intended to foster a flowering of development using the online company's features and technologies, said Jeffrey McManus, director of the Yahoo! Developer Network. Along with the API releases, Yahoo is unveiling an Application Gallery, which he said will allow developers to "show off" new applications ranging from "Web services to widgets."

The online gallery will also function as a one-stop application shopping center where potential users can browse through the technology on display in search of an application that might work for them.

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As an example of practical and worthwhile applications that have already been developed on Yahoo!, Patel pointed to a map application used by the March of Dimes. It makes it possible for supporters of the charity to see where walks are being held in their area.

Support for Web developers has not yet reached the stage where Yahoo! is hosting its own developer conferences as many software vendors do. However, McManus said that along with things like the Ajax reference manual, Yahoo! supports online communities for its developers so they can meet virtually and exchange ideas.

Besides the areas mentioned earlier, the Yahoo! Developer Network provides developers with access to documentation, reference guides and code samples for its online properties including, Flickr, Yahoo! Music, Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Yahoo! Widgets.

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