eBay's New APIs

John Musser
Jun. 12 2007, 03:30AM EDT

eBay kicked of their eBay Developer's Conference 2007 yesterday with a big set of product announcements. What's new? From their announcement:

  • eBay Shopping Web Services: a suite of faster, more responsive APIs that makes searching on eBay significantly faster and allows developers to easily create buying applications
  • New JavaScript and Flash Developer Centers - making it easier for JavaScript developers to access the eBay Web Services platform; Flash Developer Center launches next month
  • eBay Bidding API - qualified developers can enable bidding on eBay from anywhere beginning in Q3
  • Call Limit increase - Production calls increased from 10,000 per month to ~150,000 per month (based on a daily limit of 5,000), allowing developers to rapidly scale up their applications
  • eBay Client Alerts - lightweight, near real-time alerts about platform activity launches limited beta releasing in Q4

As you can see on the eBay Developer Program Overview page they draw a clear distinction between the Shopping and Trading-focused APIs. The shopping APIs are designed for lightweight, read-only, search and buying REST-style functions that don't require a token. In terms of performance these services are up to 16 times faster than older equivalent calls. They support a variety of data formats including XML, SOAP, Name Value, and JSON. The Trading APIs on the other hand are more sophisticated, data rich read-write APIs that require authentication. As they describe "For example, if you are building a browser-based search widget, you will want to explore the lightweight eBay Shopping API. If you are building a listing management application, you will want to explore our secure eBay Trading API."

One note about the very interesting PlaceOffer API that will let developers integrate bidding into their applications is how eBay is quite explicit that "Sniping (scheduled bidding) through PlaceOffer API is strictly prohibited ... Applications need to be verified before PlaceOffer API access in Production environment."

The existing eBay APIs have been popular with mashup and ecommerce developers -- there are currently 77 eBay mashups in our directory. Choose from Unwired Buyer to Mashed Tickets and the Flash-based interface of Cooqy.

John Musser

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If these apis work like they should, eBay snipers should love this. Everyone likes regexing the eBay site to grab things, but using XML, JSON, and so on makes this type of work a lot easier, cleaner, and more virulent for coders who want to make the most of their customers' purchases.