CNET Launches New API

John Musser
Feb. 02 2007, 12:19AM EST

CNET Networks, one of the best known names in online shopping yesterday announced their first API. This is a very promising service that could lead to a lot of interesting commerce applications (the new ProgrammableWeb CNET API listing is here). Here's the core of the announcement:

Today CNET launched the beta version of its new API service. Referred to as the CNET API, this service will make a wealth of data available to the mash-up community in the creation of rich consumer sites. The initial dataset will include CNET’s full catalog of technology products and software titles. This is the same dataset that drives the highly trafficked sites of CNET Reviews, Shopper.com and Download.com. Over time, the API will add news articles, community content, blog posts and full product reviews.

The API is designed for easy data discovery and integration. The interface is REST-based, supporting both XML and JSON response formats. It has undergone extensive performance optimization, in order to ensure rapid response times. To simplify query creation, a tool called the Dashboard is available that allows the user to interactively select data sets to include in the response stream. Once the user is satisfied with the data set, the tool will provide the query URL that would return the desired results. This should greatly speed query development and reduce query formatting errors.

In this early beta launch the most important tool for developers is their very useful CNET API Dashboard. This handy interactive tool allows you to dynamically construct API calls using a standard web form. It then shows you the equivalent REST-based API call (the URL) as well as the actual results. You can choose to return results either as XML, JSON, or "browsable HTML", the latter nicely formats the results in a collapsible hierarchy. Also useful because it does things like displaying the product images.

CNET API Dashboard

Here are some examples of what you can do with the API:

  • If you want the "Good and Bad" about the Canon Digital Rebel XT in an XML format, click here
  • Click here for a list of iPod product search results
  • Or if you want to comparison shop pricing for the new Windows Vista, click here

Shopping is clearly one of the most popular mashup themes. Given its transactional nature and that fact that both developer and API provider typically share revenue there's good incentives all-round. This is one way to help address the big question of Making Money from Mashups.

See our site for all 17 shopping APIs and 181 shopping mashups.

John Musser

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