March 5, 2005
@ 04:49 PM

Yesterday, in a meeting to hash out some of the details of MSN Spaces API an interesting question came up. So far I've been focused on the technical details of the API (what methods should we have? what protocol should it use? etc) as well as the scheduling impact but completely overlooked a key aspect of building developer platform. I hadn't really started thinking about how we planned to support developers using our API. Will we have a website? A mailing list? Or a newsgroup? How will people file bugs? Do we expect them to navigate to and use the feedback form?

Besides supporting developers, we will need a site to spread awareness of the existence of the API. After noticing the difference in the media response to the ability to get search results as RSS feeds from MSN Search and the announcement of the Yahoo! Search Developer Network it is clear to me that simply having great functionality and blogging about it isn't enough. To me, getting MSN Search results as RSS feeds gives me at least two things over Yahoo's approach. The first is that developers don't have to register with MSN as they have to with Yahoo! since they need to get application IDs. The second is that since the search results are an RSS feed, they not only can be consumed programmatically but can be consumed by regular users with off the shelf RSS readers. However I saw more buzz about YSDN than about the MSN Search feeds from various corners. I suspect that the lack of "oomph" in the announcement is the cause of this occurence.

Anyway, getting back to how we should support developers who want to use the MSN Spaces APIs, I'd be very interested to hear from developers of blogging tools as to what they'd like to see us do here.

Update: Jeroen van den Bos reminds me that MSN Search RSS feeds are only licensed for personal use. I need to ping the MSN Search folks about that.

Update: Mike Torres points out that both Yahoo (see YSDN FAQ) and Google (see Google API FAQ) have similar restrictions in their terms of use. It would be good to see MSN leading the way here. We've already gone one step better by not requiring developers to register and get application IDs. We should be able to the loosen the terms of use as well.


Categories: MSN
Tracked by:
"MSN Search RSS license destroys usefulness" (J e r o e n ' s ) [Trackback]
"MSN Search RSS license destroys usefulness (updated)" (J e r o e n ' s ) [Trackback]
"MSN API" (Code In Zen) [Trackback]
"Microsoft gets APIs" ( [Trackback]
"Microsoft Careers -- Meet Our People: Dare" (Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life) [Trackback]
"MSN Developer Center on MSDN Launched" (Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life) [Trackback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback] [Pingback]

Saturday, March 5, 2005 6:23:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I think you're correct to a point, but don't rule out the "underdog" variable. Anything Microsoft does is considered "evil" by many whereas anything a Microsoft competitor does is considered a "heroic act of defiance against the evil monopoly".

Sometimes, people just don't pay attention to Microsoft because they're "the man" while Apple, Google, and Yahoo! reap the benefits of being perceived as "less evil", when in fact, they're a corporate entity trying to make money, too.

I agree with you, but I don't want you to think that anything Microsoft does is going to be done on fair ground. There's a lot of negative press about Microsoft simply because it's so big and is very successful.
Saturday, March 5, 2005 6:30:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
From what I can tell, the Yahoo APIs aren't licensed for commercial use either without written permission. Same with Google.
Saturday, March 5, 2005 7:44:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I'd personally prefer a forum (something like Community Server forums) to a newsgroup, especially if it was searchable.
Newgroup posts are by their nature transient, and also quite spam-prone.

If you're taking feature requests, see my reply to your previous post (I mentiond the need for a method to return lists of posts rather than the whole body of the post).

Oh, and if at all possible it would be great if the API were Compact Framework-friendly (which with the current version might come down to providing an option to use SSL for security, given the lack of support for cryptography in .NETCF 1.x, although hashing algorithm implementations on the other hand are easy to come by)
Saturday, March 5, 2005 8:19:11 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I think it would be best if all blogging tools used the Atom API, to make things more standardized.
Saturday, March 5, 2005 11:11:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I love MSN Spaces very much, but my primary problems with it so far is reliability. Yes, I realize that its beta, but it has some obvious bugs that occur a lot. The operation abort errors , when are you going to fix those?

Next thing is the interface, making it flexible for user and having greater control over it. You need to work on that. I need more "List", I think I can only have up to 11 list on my blog, I need more. Speaking of list, could we take the functionality even a little further by being able to post images within a list.

More on the interface, why is it off to left? Does it have something to do with my monitors resolution? I would like it to be similar to blog like yours or webblogs approach. Log in issue, why can't I have a simple URL that takes me directly to my editors page.

Categories, I don't know much about web development but on MSN spaces its not natural. I have several categories listed on my website. Categories include, "Computers and the Internet", "Health & Wellness", "Music", "Entertainment", just to name a few. If someone who regularly visits my blog just for music stuff, why can't they type in the URL,

These are only just a few of the things that I feel personally could be much better in MSN Spaces, its just too restricting. Yes, I know its not for the technical savvy, but I just need more.

Thank you
Sunday, March 6, 2005 3:16:06 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Try appending &format=xml to the end of a query. I wonder if that makes the rss licensing terms moot?
Sunday, March 6, 2005 5:45:27 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Your blog layout is badly broken on the Safari web browser.
Jeff Moore
Sunday, March 6, 2005 6:00:25 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
The licensing terms described in the XML document returned when you add the parameter format=xml to the search query seem more restrictive than those in the RSS feed.
Sunday, March 6, 2005 4:59:42 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Dare: Take a look at this webpage in a non MS browser--FYI it's almost unreadable.

To the post, you make good points about API usage and pre-registration of app ids and or API keys. I understand the need for keys from the service end (tracking and resource protection) but the implementation end is awful. I'd like to write some Radio-based XML-RPC procedures for Spaces so please make it easy to use for the developer and the hobbiest.


Steve Kirks
Friday, March 18, 2005 5:20:53 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
AtomAPI(The Atom Publishing Protocol) would be nice.
I developed a blog client that posts to Blogger, TypePad etc using AtomAPI.(shameless... I got a few thousand users in Japan.)
I don't wanna rewrite my a-couple-thousands-lines-of-code just to support MSN Space.

You can extend Atom to fit your need(eg, music list, friends list,photos..).
Toru Marumoto
Tuesday, May 3, 2005 10:47:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
MSN Search definitely needs to support some type of API architecture. It would be nice if MS took the lead in all of this and would also be nice if MS tried to settle the (seeming) dispute about which model to use.

Currently Google uses SOAP and Yahoo is using REST. It would be really nice if there was some sort of standardization from the developer point of view. Personally I prefer REST, but either is okay.

Licensing restrictions is a *major* issue in my book.

With Google you can get a commercial license though most don't. There the API limit is Per License, meaning anyone can sign up for a free API license and use it themselves, no matter who created the API or where it is used from.

Yahoo is taking another route, where you register the API name itself. Then the License Limit counts against whatever IP (usually a server IP) that queries Y! This model has all sorts of problems IMO, especially when you consider with shared hosting. If there are 500 sites on a single shared server and several of them have a Yahoo API that people are using, all of those queries count against the server. So it's the *server* that gets 5,000 queries per day, not each application. Thus, it would be pretty easy for any developer to totally lock up all of the queries for a server, and anybody else who happens to be hosted on that

At this time, Yahoo does not offer a commercial license. You can write them for one, but they'll tell you they don't have one yet. Trust me, I've tried to obtain one and can't.

As a developer I don't mind having to register the API, per Yahoo's model, at all. But the license limit on a server is troublesome. I also don't mind Google's approach where the User can supply their own API License. Even though their daily limit is far too low IMHO. Neither is perfect by a long stretch.

Hopefully MSN can come up with a model that makes a bit more sense where the licensing is concerned. And at the very least will make the API available via either SOAP or REST so that we developers don't have to code the same application 3 times.
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