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Author Topic: YQL: Using Web Content For Non-Programmers  (Read 1601 times)


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YQL: Using Web Content For Non-Programmers
« on: January 03, 2011, 02:14:39 AM »
Nice guide to using YQL...

Building a beautiful design is a great experience. Seeing the design break apart when people start putting in real content, though, is painful. That’s why testing it as soon as possible with real information to see how it fares is so important. To this end, Web services provide us with a lot of information with which to fill our products. In recent years, this has been a specialist’s job, but the sheer amount of information available and the number of systems to consume it makes it easier and easier to use Web services, even for people with not much development experience.

On Programmable Web1, you can find (to date) 2580 different application programming interfaces (or APIs). An API allows you to get access to an information provider’s data in a raw format and reformat it to suit your needs.

The Trouble With APIs

The problem with APIs is that access to them varies in simplicity, from just having to load data from a URL all the way up to having to authenticate with the server and give all kinds of information about the application you want to build before getting your first chunk of information.

Each API is based on a different idea of what information you need to provide, what format it should be in, what data it will give back and in what format. All this makes using third-party APIs in your products very time-consuming, and the pain multiplies with each one you use. If you want to get photos from Flickr and updates from Twitter and then show the geographical information in Twitter on a map, then you have quite a trek ahead.

Simplifying API Access

Yahoo uses APIs for nearly all of its products. Instead of accessing a database and displaying the information live on the screen, the front end calls an API, which in turn gets the information from the back end, which talks to databases. This gives Yahoo the benefit of being able to scale to millions of users and being able to change either the front or back end without disrupting the other.

Because the APIs have been built over 10 years, they all vary in format and the way in which you access them. This cost Yahoo too much time, which is why it built Yahoo Pipes2 — to ease the process.

Pipes is amazing. It is a visual way to mix and match information from the Web. However, as people used Pipes more, they ran into limitations. Versioning pipes was hard; to change the functionality of the pipe just slightly, you had to go back to the system, and it tended to slow down with very complex and large conversions. This is why Yahoo offers a new system for people’s needs that change a lot or get very complex.

YQL is both a service and a language (Yahoo Query Language). It makes consuming Web services and APIs dead simple, both in terms of access and format.

« Last Edit: January 03, 2011, 02:16:36 AM by app103 »