eBay Makes Calls for Developers Through APIs

The eBay Developers Conference will be held June 21-22 at the Fairmont San Jose Hotel, followed by eBay Live! June 23-25. eBay plans to introduce a unified API schema that will support software development across all platforms and languages. The schema, called eBay Web Services, supports development in XML, SOAP, .NET and Java, as well as eBay’s software development kits for Java and Windows.

PayPal, an eBay company, will also introduce software development kits that will include code libraries for Web services.

eBay created a program for its developers in 2000 in response to developers who sought APIs that would allow them to access the online marketplace using Web services.

“APIs were fairly new back then, especially for eBay,” says Greg Isaacs, director of the eBay Developer Program. “Developers said: ‘We appreciate what you’re doing, but this is what we want for APIs and this is what features we want in kits.” Issacs says eBay currently has 180 APIs. Developers pay eBay an annual fee to begin the program and then pay a small fee per API call.

Prior to the Developer Program, developers would build applications on top of eBay’s platform, according to Alex Poon, CEO of Bonfire Media, a Los Altos, Calif.-based company that creates applications for wireless customers. “Developers would create applications anyway though page scrapping, but they were error prone and a pain,” Poon says.

Bonfire Media uses the program to create a “minature eBay on phones,” Poon says. The eBay API access allows wireless users to search for products; view, bid on and win auction items; comparison shop; check My eBay pages and receive notification if they won or lost an auction. Bonfire Media’s Pocket Auctions for eBay is currently available on Sprint PCS Vision, Cingular mMode and MEdia Net and T-Mobile phones.

About the Author

Kathleen Ohlson is senior editor at Application Development Trends magazine.