February 4, 2007

Community-Oriented Search API Trends

Posted in alexa, api, ask.com, flickr, google, microsoft live, Search, technorati, webshots, yahoo at 2:30 pm by mj

Ever get curious about the trends in the APIs provided by web search engines and social sites with a public search? Well, I did, couldn’t find a convenient reference, spent a morning doing some research, and am sharing my data here.

I’ve only included mainstream communities with public search APIs that do not require user-level authentication. That is, it’s possible to get “whole web” or “whole site” results that match keywords/tags, and not just get back a user’s own posts/photos/etc. (which excludes del.icio.us, simpy, bloglines, tailrank, facebook, among others).

Highlights for the ADD crowd: Nearly everybody requires an API key. Most rate limit. Almost nobody supports OpenSearch. REST APIs are overwhelmingly preferred. Yahoo! (+ Flickr) wins the “easiest to work with” award (no surprise).

Read on for comparisons of eight players, presented in alphabetical order. Then, add comments with corrections or APIs that I missed.


Amazon / Alexa Web Services

  • Fee: $0.30/1K queries
  • URL: http://docs.amazonwebservices.com/AlexaWebSearch/2006-02-15/
  • TOS: ?
  • Easy, complete documentation: yes
  • Supports user-level authentication: no
  • Integrated into site-wide APIs: no
  • Formats:
    • OpenSearch: no
    • SOAP: yes
    • XML-RPC: no
    • Simple XML: yes
    • AJAX: no
    • JSON: no
  • Partner Registration Required: yes
  • Referer-based Access Control: no
  • Rate limited: no (Fee-based)
  • Requires non-commercial use: no
  • Primary developer community: none
  • Includes sponsored results: no
  • Can specify result count: yes
  • Can control look-and-feel: yes

 

Ask.com

  • Fee: free
  • URL: http://www.antezeta.com/ask/ask-web-search-api.html
  • TOS: unknown
  • Easy, complete documentation: no offcial documentation
  • Supports user-level authentication: no
  • Integrated into site-wide APIs: no
  • Formats:
    • OpenSearch: no
    • SOAP: no
    • XML-RPC: no
    • Simple XML: yes
    • AJAX: no
    • JSON: no
  • Partner Registration Required: no
  • Referer-based Access Control: no
  • Rate limited: unknown
  • Requires non-commercial use: apparently, no
  • Primary developer community: none
  • Includes sponsored results: no
  • Can specify result count: yes
  • Can control look-and-feel: yes

 

Flickr Search

 

Google

 

Technorati Bog Search

 

Webshots Search

  • Fee: free
  • URL: http://www.webshots.com/html/rss_learn_more.html
  • TOS: http://www.webshots.com/html/terms.html (does not specifically mention services)
  • Easy, complete documentation: no
  • Supports user-level authentication: no
  • Integrated into site-wide APIs: no
  • Formats:
    • OpenSearch: yes
    • SOAP: no
    • Simple XML: no
    • AJAX: no
    • JSON: no
  • Partner Registration Required: no
  • Referer-based Access Control: no
  • Rate limited: no
  • Requires non-commercial use: no
  • Primary developer community: none
  • Includes sponsored results: no
  • Can specify result count: yes
  • Can control look-and-feel: yes

 

Windows Live Search

  • Fee: free
  • URL: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb251794.aspx
  • TOS: unknown (could not find)
  • Easy, complete documentation: absolutely not
  • Supports user-level authentication: no
  • Integrated into site-wide APIs: no
  • Formats:
    • OpenSearch: no
    • SOAP: yes
    • Simple XML: no
    • AJAX: no
    • JSON: no
  • Partner Registration Required: yes
  • Referer-based Access Control: no
  • Rate limited: 10K/d
  • Requires non-commercial use: unknown
  • Primary developer community: none?
  • Includes sponsored results: unknown
  • Can specify result count: yes
  • Can control look-and-fool: yes

 

Yahoo! Search

  • Fee: free
  • URL: http://developer.yahoo.com/search/
  • TOS: http://developer.yahoo.com/terms/
  • Easy, complete documentation: yes
  • Supports user-level authentication: no
  • Integrated into site-wide APIs: no
  • Formats:
    • OpenSearch: no
    • SOAP: no
    • XML-RPC: no
    • Simple XML: yes
    • AJAX: no
    • JSON: yes
  • Partner Registration Required: yes
  • Referer-based Access Control: no
  • Rate limited: by IP (5K/24h); each service (Web, Image, etc.) has its own limit
  • Requires non-commercial use: no (but requires non-competition)
  • Primary developer community: http://developer.yahoo.net/blog/
  • Includes sponsored results: no
  • Can specify result count: yes
  • Can control look-and-feel: yes

 

Aaaaand… we’re done! Sorry, no pretty chart–wordpress.com doesn’t support HTML tables.

Add a comment with corrections or pointers to APIs that I missed, and I will update this entry.

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