eBay Publishes Its Source Code, Encourages Open-Source Development
- By John K. Waters
eBay is giving the members of its developer programs access to the source code
for various eBay and PayPal tools and sample applications. The code is being released
today on the newly launched eBay Community Codebase Web site, which the company
created to serve as an online forum for open-source developer collaboration.
"Historically, we've always been an advocate of open-source software development,"
says Greg Isaacs, director of eBay’s developers program, "but we’ve
never said here’s a home for you to actually work together."
Access to the Web site and the source code is free to all eBay Developers Program
and PayPal Developer Network members. And to encourage the creation and distribution
of open source eBay apps, the company also unveiled a new pricing structure
that increases the number of free API calls individual tier program members
have access to from 1,500 per month to 10,000 per month. And the company has
waived all certification fees for Individual tier members.
The company also announced that it is open sourcing its various software development
kits. “The kits have always been distributed free to developers in the
programs,” Isaacs says. “Now we’re saying, here’s the
source code. We’re opening up this environment to the best developers
in the world.”
The eBay platform is a trading community where tens of millions of users can
get together to buy and sell practically anything on a daily basis. To help
promote open-source development for this platform, the site will include some
featured projects, Isaacs told ProgrammingTrends. "The idea is to sprinkle
some seeds," he says.
Initial projects available in the eBay Community Codebase include:
- Firefox My eBay Toolbar built by eBay
- TiVo/eBay sample application built by eBay
- Five payment scripts for integrating PayPal
- Eclipse Plug-in built by eBay
- PayPal Payment Data Analysis using Excel
The eBay Codebase site will be hosted by Collabnet, a provider of distributed
development solutions. The company is signed on to provide a collaborative development
environment designed to allow developers to work together from geographically
distributed areas and throughout application development lifecycles, the company
says. Collabnet's CTO, Brian Behlendorf, is a founder of the Apache open-source
The operator of the world's largest online marketplace made the announcements
at its fourth-annual eBay Developer Conference, under way this week at the Fairmont
Hotel in San Jose in conjunction with its tenth annual user conference, eBay
eBay launched its developer program in 2000 and published its initial set of
APIs, but did little to publicize the program for the first year or two. But
for the past two years, the company has been aggressively promoting the program,
which seeks to encourage third-party innovations built on Web services standards,
such as the Simple Object Access Protocol.
Last year, conference organizers let the show’s developer component stand
as a separate, concurrent event for the first time. It drew an estimated 500
attendees looking for advice and training on developing for the eBay platform.
This year’s event drew about a hundred more attendees than last year.
The day-long, pre-conference developer workshop was sold out.
Historically, most of the applications developed for the eBay platform have
been created with the seller in mind, including broad-based selling apps and
what Isaacs calls category applications focused on specific markets, such as
autos or ticket sales. But third-party developers are also turning out a range
of buying applications. Taken together, third-party applications currently account
for 20 percent of eBay’s listings, Isaacs says.
eBay intends to take a fairly hands-off approach to activities on the new Web
site, Isaacs says. But that doesn't mean that eBay's in-house developers won't
be participating. "If there are things that make sense for us to collaborate
on more aggressively, we will certainly do that," Isaacs says.
More information is available on the eBay Community Codebase Web site at: www.codebase.ebay.com.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached