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The Internet

Google to Offer API 218

philipx writes "From the ruby-talk archives here's a little interesting snippet from a post you have to check out: "Here at Google, we're about to start offering an API to our search-engine, so that people can programmatically use Google through a clean and clearly defined interface, rather than have to resort to parsing HTML." It goes on talking about SOAP and I think this is utterly cool."
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Google to Offer API

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  • Cool, but.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Patman ( 32745 ) <pmgeahan-slashdo ... g ['hep' in gap]> on Saturday April 06, 2002 @12:55PM (#3295739) Homepage
    This is very cool, but how long will it last? How will Google make many(and by extension, stay open) when you don't even have to visit their site?
    • Re:Cool, but.... (Score:2, Informative)

      Considering most of their money is made through licensing their search technology to other searching outfits and businesses, they shouldn't have any trouble making money.
      • Re:Cool, but.... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by NullStream ( 121401 )
        If you look at that snippet of Ruby code there you can see that there is a field for a Key of some sort. I'm assuming google will sell you this service and provide you with a key in which you would use it. I know absolutely nothing about ruby (other than it's name) though this is the first thing that came to mind when I saw that code.
      • ya, that is ok but what about the ads google has. if by chance someone service utilizes the API in such a way that google has its popularity decreasing then what? well i agree the probability is remote, but not 0 also.
    • That's the beautiful thing about a site that doesn't fund themselves through the use of banner ads. It doesn't MATTER if you access their content through the main website, an affiliate like yahoo, or an api interface.

      -Restil
      • That's the beautiful thing about a site that doesn't fund themselves through the use of banner ads. It doesn't MATTER if you access their content through the main website, an affiliate like yahoo, or an api interface.

        They sells text ads on their main site. Yahoo pays them a fee. So how will the API users pay for themselves?

    • They could actually charge for a devkit or usage to break even on the project. Even if it did costsome money, I could see it being well worth the price, if it works well.

      I just wonder how it will tie into my app. Will it open my browser? Will the Google Bar plugin be the foundation?

      We'll just have to wait and see...

    • I thought they made their money by selling the first few search result slots. So they will still make money regardless of how you access the data.
      • Re:Cool, but.... (Score:3, Informative)

        No, they don't sell any of the search result slots. They sell ads above and to the right of the search results, but these do not affect the search results themselves.

        - Amit
    • The search will probably still return their sponsored links first. So this could actually increase the value of paying for a sponsored link.
    • If google returns paid links as well as non-paid ones, they would have to indicate it in the search results. Then, the program pulling in the search results could simply filter those out. Chances are, google would be able to make a legal clause for the use of the API but it would still be pretty damn hard to track. The other choice would be not to indicate which listings are paid and which aren't- but this would really confuse the people using the search results and wouldn't be too great at all.
    • ..and may work again. I think google is in a unique position where they could make a value proposition by using a combination of a barter system and of course the monetery system. consider this: google could have one of two modes of payment:
      • 1) you pay a subscription fee ($/query, or flat fee, a combination of both like the utilities... whatever works best).
      • 2) for people that don't want to pay, or cannot afford to pay... put up a barter system. the way that would work is, the subscriber gives up clock cycles (in the SETI@home fashion to build up 'karma' or 'virtual money' that can be used to pay for the subscription system mentioned previously. That way people who cannot or don't want to pay for the service directly in real-dollars can keep their computers on and earn google-dollars to later redeem it.
        • Google benefits from the monetery system in an obvious way. They also benefit from the barter system by vastly adding to the crunch power which hopefully improves their indexing/grading system. Unused clock cycles which would otherwise be wasted can now earn some value for the users and at the same time give google the 'value' for providing their service.

          So their 'open' system if presented in the form of barter could actually work for the advantage of both parties involved.

    • It means that they don't have to render pretty HTML for you; they potentially pass you a smaller amount of data, which may lead to their having to do less work.

      And as for "not having to visit their site," remember that they're not doing huge amounts of banner ads. It's not totally evident that this "destroys" any of their business.

      They still get to collect statistics on what queries come from where on what, which doesn't change terribly much whether they're receiving queries as HTML FORMs or XML SCHEMAs, and there's only a little reason for them to care about folks receiving back HTML versus XML

    • Ahh, but you *are* visiting their site. Think about it. People are already writing scripts to harvest data from search engines, news sites, Amazon, IMDB, Weather.com, etc. This is a useful enough idea that people are coming up with programs to do it even if subtle changes to the page layout breaks things & they have to rewrite the parsers. You can either deny this is happening -- and fight this silly little war of attrition against clever developers doing Interesting Things -- or you can give in, nurture this emerging technology, and oh yeah cut way down on your bandwidth costs because you're letting them slurp up only the content that they want. Win-win.

      Yeah, it makes it hard/impossible to make money on it with current models (no ads etc), but it could evolve into a system where sites can exchange data for mutual benefit, giving them all data they need while cutting back on transmission overheads.

      Think of it as being ahead of the curve. This is where MS is pushing with SOAP, and others are going with XML-RPC. It can lead us to the point where the "noosphere" of web info can be universally accessed without having to run a clunky old web browser to do it (cell phone, palm pilot, and other alternative access users of the world, rejoice! :).

      Google is clever. They're trying to set themselves up as all purpose, all access information scroungers, and they're doing a hell of a good job at it while making a nice profit besides. I don't doubt that they'll be able to parlay this into a revenue stream if it takes off -- just give it a chance to flourish...

  • Cool feature (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rock 'N' Troll ( 566273 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @12:56PM (#3295742) Homepage Journal
    Good idea. By the way, shouldn't /. have a specific "Google" topic?
    • Perhaps a farmer picking apart a haystack, one piece at a time.
    • seriously,

      all of us do nothing but rave about google day and night

      for it is a search engine we love, with a company many of us have come to love

      I for one would love to see google have its own slashdot icon

      Come to think of it, there are plenty of USELESS icons none of us give a damn about

      the following are a few:

      Beanies [slashdot.org]
      E+ [slashdot.org](huh?)
      OS 9 [slashdot.org]

      Heres hoping for a new google icon!!

      Just my two cents, all taxes included

      Sunny Dubey

  • DoS Google? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by David Kennedy ( 128669 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @12:56PM (#3295743) Homepage
    The only problem I can see with this is that there was a recent thread on here about Google blocking a lump of IP addresses as someone in there was automatically querying way too often and affecting their load.

    With the exposed API I could see, by malice or sheer accident, floods of queries coming in...
    • I wonder as well. I've used my own C/GUI front end for Google searches, mainly to automate finding and downloading PDF, gz and other binaries. But I use that much less frequently than I do normal browser based searches so I don't make the slightest spike on their BadBoy meter.

      I wonder if they have a [business] plan for this feature or if it's just the brain child of their gurus in the back room. Actually, I'm quite intriqued by the possibilities, so I'm going to keep on eye on it...

      -
    • Re:DoS Google? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Otterley ( 29945 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @01:23PM (#3295821)
      In order to DoS Google it doesn't really matter whether you bang on the front door or the back door.

      In fact, an attack through the front door will be more likely to succeed because you're hitting the rendering engine, which takes a lot more CPU time (believe it or not) than the search engine.

      OTOH the back door is lightweight and is as such advantageous for not only third parties but also Google itself to employ.

      Besides, if you're being abused, if you don't want to use technological avenues to keep miscreants away, you can always use legal ones.
  • This is great. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aozilla ( 133143 )
    Text ads... Open standards for content distribution... If only certain other sites [slashdot.org] would follow...
    • Open standards for content distribution... If only certain other sites...

      Ah, but they do [slashdot.org]

      • Re:This is great. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by aozilla ( 133143 )
        That's just the headlines... I want messages... moderations... articles... everything...
        • You can do the obvious [slashdot.org] thing, or you can use any of the filtering software available:

          squid [squid-cache.org] plus ad-zap [zip.com.au] (my choice) ;

          junkbuster [junkbuster.com] ;

          proxomitron [thewebfairy.com].

          There may be others. Some tweaking required (not for subscribing, obviously :)

          • I'd be perfectly willing to subscribe if I got XML data. It's not about the ads, as you've said there are plenty of easier ways to get rid of ads (I use mozilla). It's about being able to write a PHP script to show replies to my posts on my PDA. It's about coming up with my own arbitrary moderation scheme (automatically -1 posts with the word "unconstitutional" in it).
    • Google isn't offering an open standard for content distribution. They would most likely offer this as a for fee service, and they certainly aren't saying that users of this service will be able to, for free, offer thier own frontend to the google database to the Public. The very idea of making this service analogous to what you are stealing from slashdot is ridiculous. Sure, you aren't trying to profit from it, but your page would not be possible without slashdot's services, and your actions are possibly reducing thier revenue, which is paramount to theft.
      • Sure, you aren't trying to profit from it, but your page would not be possible without slashdot's services, and your actions are possibly reducing thier revenue, which is paramount to theft.

        No, theft is theft. This would be using the offered services. Much like buying food from the University of Maryland food services on your point card, and then giving it to charity for the homeless isn't theft either. (of corse the UofMD food services folks claimed it was though)

        Reducing someone's revenue is not theft, even if it involves using someone else's services (so long as you use them within the bounds they have been offered). A Mobil gas station next to a Shell gas station is likely to reduce the Shell's revenue. Not theft. If the Shell is dumb enough to to sell the gas at half price to the Mobil, it still isn't theft. If the Shell sells it half price but with a no resale rider it is a contract violation though.

        • Right, but google says not to 'redistribute' or whatever, their service, so a self made front end would essentially be theft, if it was used by someone other than self...
          • Right, but google says not to 'redistribute' or whatever, their service, so a self made front end would essentially be theft, if it was used by someone other than self...

            No, that is still not theft, it is a contract violation. Not everything bad is theft. Spray painting my house isn't theft, even if it lowers the property value of my house, or is done just before an open house and in fact costs me potential buyers.

            Kicking my dog wouldn't be assault either, it would be animal cruelty (and if I catch you kicking my dog, you may get to file an assault charge against me).

    • Re:This is great. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shayne321 ( 106803 )

      Text ads... Open standards for content distribution... If only certain other sites would follow...

      Apples and oranges... Google's bread and butter is their patented PageRank technology, which they license for what I'm sure is a lot of money. Slashdot, having made the decision to opensource slashcode do not have this option, therefore we're forced to endure banner ads and subscriptions as their only source of revenue. Ironic, eh? The people that screamed so loud about how long it took ./ to release the source for slash are now bitching about subscriptions and banner ads.. Like it or not, if slashcode was proprietary it could be sold and licensed and you wouldn't have to see ads here (or at least not the larger ones). Sourceforge figured this out too late, and are now trying to sell the SourceForge software as a source of income.

      Hopefully ./ will wise up and figure out if they ever want to make any real money they'll have to offer a real service.. Like consulting to companies/webmasters to setup slashcode for customers (like MySQL AB does)... Too bad VA Linux went out of the hardware market. I think a pre-configured "Slash Appliance" (sort of like google's Search Appliance [google.com]) would be cool as hell for companies needing an internal collaboration system. ./ has really missed the boat here, IMHO.

      Shayne

  • by astrashe ( 7452 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @01:02PM (#3295763) Journal
    This is really fantastic. I can already think of a dozen scripts or so that I'd like to write to take advantage of this. I love the fact that this is from a Ruby list, and it's about Google. It's not MSDN and MSN.

    They'll need a business model of some sort -- without the ads, and with the potential this has to hammer their servers, they'll need to meter access to the API in some way. But I'll pay -- where do I sign up?

    I'll bet that this is how they'll end up making most of their money a couple of years from now.
    • It's not MSDN and MSN.

      I'm curious as to whether people would actually want such functionality from MSDN. It's one thing to be able to do a Google search from a function call and get the results back as XML but do people want API docs and technical articles retrieved via getArticle() and getAPI() webmethods?

      One place where it might be useful however is KnowledgeBase articles [microsoft.com]. Perhaps a web service that retrieves a KB article given the Q number (e.g. Q123456) might be useful.

      Disclaimer: This post is my opinion on doesnot reflect the thoughts, strategies, intentions or opinions of my employer.
      • technet.microsoft.com, perhaps? And not just the articles themselves, but the ones that reference them.

    • One way I'd consider of making money if I were google would be to merge the AdWord links with the top results so they are indistinguishable. If you have a paying account with them, you can opt to "clean up" the results.
    • They'll need a business model of some sort -- without the ads, and with the potential this has to hammer their servers, they'll need to meter access to the API in some way. But I'll pay -- where do I sign up?

      Another option is to give better access to paying customers: a paying customer is given unlimited use of the search, while private individuals (distinguished via IP/registration/...) would be limited to, say, one search per 5 seconds. It would be great to be able to use this API for some small things without having the hassle of paying. A 5-10 second delay isn't very bad in a small home situation, but is out of the question for any larger-scale applications.

      I'd say it would also be consistent with their current user-friendly business model, and give another jolt of good PR for them.
  • Cool! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geddes ( 533463 )
    For my high school senior project I wrote a Java program that made specific searches on google, and parsed the results. I spent 3/4 of my time perfecting the nasty string manipulation to strip out the HTML and isolate indivisual results, urls, etc. in my own databse. Had the API come out two years ago, I would have spent a lot less time on that thing. Way to go Google!

    Could this be in response to the supposed competition from tokohma? open up thier results in some way to increase thier usage?

    • Re:Cool! (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Had the API come out two years ago, I would have spent a lot less time on that thing.

      Had you enough sense to use Perl, you would have spent a lot less time on that thing. What crack smoking teacher would force someone to do string manipulation in Java...sadistic.

    • You could have ran the data through an HTML parser into a DOM tree. Much more easy to work with the data there!
    • For my high school senior project I wrote a Java program that made specific searches on google, and parsed the results. I spent 3/4 of my time perfecting the nasty string manipulation to strip out the HTML and isolate indivisual results, urls, etc. in my own databse.

      I think your high school programming teacher was one of those Java programmers with a sense of humor [theonion.com]. There are languages where you just have to write one line, and this is only when you want to reinvent the wheel [cpan.org].

      m|^<p><a href="?([^">]+)"?>(.+?)</a>| and print "$2\n$1\n\n" while <>;

      Those Java programmers really does have a sense of humor... Or maybe he was one of those CIPA guys [slashdot.org], because if you had used Perl, you would have spent 3/4 of your time watching pr0n.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 06, 2002 @01:03PM (#3295768)
    Google Terms of Service [google.com]. Some excerpts:

    Personal Use Only [...] You may not take the results from a Google search and reformat and display them

    No Automated Querying: You may not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system without express permission in advance from Google.
    So how useful might that API be if you can't do anything with it...

    • by red_dragon ( 1761 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @01:16PM (#3295805) Homepage

      I'd assume that the API would be subject to a different set of terms and conditions than those for the main site. Given that it'll probably be a pay-for-use service (as another poster hinted at), it'd most certainly be that way.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      You can get permission if you ask instead of just giving up =)
    • You could write a program that would use Google as its back-end search engine for the Internet. That program could be sold and anyone can use it on their computer. For instance, I can imagine Apple using that API for their Sherlock search application. Just because the software that uses it is distributed doesn't mean that it violates the license. As long as the results are not redistributed (i.e. in your own public web site), and the search is initiated only upon request from the user and it not some kind of cron job, then it's okay. Apple's Sherlock and Mozilla's search tools both conform.
    • To quote my own post (above):
      "I wonder if they have a [business] plan for this feature..."

      The more I think about it, the less I think this is going to be a "free" feature. It seems to encourage "automated queries" and that doesn't fit with any business model I've thought of (for Google) and, as you've pointed out, it's against their TOS.

      I'm guessing that, if this feature comes to fruition and stays, its usage will come under some sort of paid model.
      -
    • Um, doesn't it say you can do something with it, or did I miss a statement about personal use somehow?

      I suspect that, despite the outcry and outrage from some quarters, they're not simply going to give away their entire search engine API connected to their search farm. Perhaps they'll limit it, meter it, and even charge for it. All would be more then fair.
    • No contradiction (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @01:55PM (#3295913) Homepage Journal
      The "Personal Use" restriction means that you can't download results for Google than pass them on as your own product. There's no restriction on downloading and reformarting results for your own use. Nor on applications that help you do it. There are already a lot of products that do this -- including plugins for all the major browsers.

      On the other hand, Google would obviously not want you to set up your own search site that passes queries to their engine, harvests the results, and presents them on your own site. That is the obvious target of the "Personal Use" restriction.

      As for the "Automated Query" restriction -- well, what do you think they mean by "Automated"? Programmatic access to their engine? They couldn't prevent that even if they wanted to. "Automated" obviously means programs that issue hundreds of queries for data mining purpose. Example: crawling the Groups archives to harvest email addresses.

      (This was a matter of some concern to me, when I noticed that the Google Usenet archives included all my company's private groups. I'd innocently used by real corporate email, innocently thinking that the groups weren't accessible outside the company. But the spam volume is still very low. Their bot detection software must be quite good.)

      Note that making a simple API available doesn't enable any new kind of access to the Google engine. A clever programmer can already parse the HTML results. The API just makes it easier -- and gives Google another product they can sell licenses for.

      • Yes they can prevent it. I wrote a script to browse google's cache, and they somehow detected it and disallow my IP from running it. But I can still query through the browser.
      • ote that making a simple API available doesn't enable any new kind of access to the Google engine. A clever programmer can already parse the HTML results. The API just makes it easier -- and gives Google another product they can sell licenses for.

        I've written a script to pull from google's search results so that I could have a site-only search function built into my page. I've had to rework it about 3-4 times as they keep adjusting the way to connect.

        This is definitely about money, and I don't blame them. As long as their pricing model is decent, then I think they'll make a killing. Information is power, being able to find that information is even more power, and when you hold a monopoly because you're so much fucking better than everyone else... you can command money for your services.

        I'll probably buy into it if they come up with a decent pricing scheme. I'd like to see something relating hits to cash, but also have some cut-off switches (so you can protect yourself against runs and slashdottings).

        • Private librarian where the library is the entire web and the library is also the public library. There is definately value there, and if I were a Fortune nnn company, I think I'd be stupid not to buy into a piece of it.
          Symbiosis can be viewed as mutual parasitism. There are good reasons for corporate shirts to pay good money for what hackers download for free.
      • Re:No contradiction (Score:2, Interesting)

        by yintercept ( 517362 )
        This is not a complaint. I just want to point out that the whole Google Concept is built on a subtle contradicitons or, dare I say, hypocracy. From the User Agreement:

        The search results that appear from Google's indices are indexed by Google's automated machinery and computers

        The User Agreement precludes you from automatically querying their site:

        You may not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system without express permission in advance from Google.

        The google agreement demands express permission to automatically scan its site, while Google assumes the permission to index all sites on the net.

        Google also pretty much make the claim that if it is on the Internet they will index it. Their terms of service states that the only way not to have a site indexed is remove it from the net:

        For each web site reflected in Google's indices, if either (i) a site owner restricts access to his or her web site or (ii) a site is taken down from the web, then, upon receipt of a request by the site owner or a third party in the second instance, Google would consider on a case-by-case basis requests to remove the link to that site from its indices.

        I think Google is providing a great service, but I hope you can see the subtle contradictions in their product. They basically are saying that anything on the web is fair game for Google. Yet, Google is on the web, it is not fair game for other organizations. This is a very blatant double standard.

        Google is a derivative work. The product model of Google is to determine expert sites by aggregating the link lists on other expert sites. In other words, they are taking other people's work, aggregating it and providing the results. Google's aggregation program is a derivative work. Not only that, they fail to give any compensation to the expert sites.

        As for the issue of intergallactic karma, they actually expect the expert site to pay for the bandwidth needed by Google to aggregate the site. They then use this information to draw human traffic from the expert site.

        Again, to the Google worshippers, I am not complaining or flaming Google, but simply pointing out a logical contradiction. Jack's Expert Site is harmed by Google in two ways: The googlebots take up a great deal of bandwidth that Jack pays for. Google then uses this information to draw actual human traffic from Jack's Expert Site. From this vantage Google is a big guy stomping on the small guy. When Microsoft does this type of stuff, we call it evil.
    • No Automated Querying: You may not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system without express permission in advance from Google.

      The mean it. The version of WWW::Search::Google [cpan.org] on CPAN sends a User-Agent header of "WWW::Search/2.33", which Google rejects, saying: "Your client does not have permission to get URL...". Changing the User-Agent to "lynx" allows the query to be answered.

      Of course, the question of how their terms of service become binding upon us is yet to be answered. They say: By using Google's search engine services ("Google Search Services"), you agree to be bound by the following terms and conditions (the "Terms of Service"). Yeah, right. I don't accept that from microsloth, and I don't accept it from Google.
  • Some unscrupulous players could surely abuse this by 'making their own' search engines that essentially rip off google without any hassle what so ever?
    Ok, it can be done already, but this would make it possibly too easy...?

    Also, this will miss out their ads etc that they get revenue from, I wonder what their long term stratagy is?

    • While it is possible practically. I doubt they could pull it off. Lets say you do create a search engine and all of the sudden a huge number of requests come through? What do you do?

      Or lets say Google spikes the search request at some competitors to prove they are using Google.

      So sure they could do it, but I doubt any popular site could get away with it for long.
    • Some unscrupulous players could surely abuse this by 'making their own' search engines that essentially rip off google without any hassle what so ever?

      Yahoo [yahoo.com] hasn't had enough problems with it to take it down. It's really nice being able to make my own PHP script to display customized stock quotes on my PDA.

    • Google has no qualms with denying service to whole ISPs because of a few people from that specific provider abusing their search engine. I was reading somewhere that they denied everyone from Comcast for just that reason. The people at Google are pretty smart and I assume they will have a method for preventing abuse of their SOAP interface. I guess they will just deny anyone who abuses. Also, I assume they will have text adds or something (from seeing some of the other discussion in the /. stories). This move will no doubt allow Google to really entrench their position as the best search engine around.
    • If you look at the way it works right now, using the interface requires an authorization key.

      If you run the Ruby script, as is, the result is thus:

      #: Exception from service object: Invalid authorization key: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (SOAP::FaultError)

      If somebody starts abusing a particular key, it's a no-brainer for Google to shut the key off.

  • I've been writing a bookmarking application that directs the user to Google and later remembers the last Google search so you can resume it. This API will simplify the interface significantly and open up a whole new world of possibilities.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 06, 2002 @01:13PM (#3295793)
    The first page I visit every morning [monolinux.com]
    ---

    The following is the preliminary code that a particular Google sysadmin (ian@) is trying out. He'd prefer to have a single WSDL file do all of the configure (from Google's end to client), but he first needs to get some advice from an experienced Ruby hacker.

    Also, let's keep in mind that this API will actually be decreasing Google pageviews and hits, which will in turn make their AdWords, AdWordsSelect, and textads less effective. So, it's our duty to continue to support Google and show them that the free/open source software people are behind them 100%. We know that Teoma just doesn't deliver, and Google's already got 3 billion pages indexed and cached.

    Support Google today, because they're the future of information indexing on the Web!

    --- begin code ---

    #!/usr/bin/ruby

    require 'soap/driver'

    endpoint = 'http://api-ab.google.com/search/beta2'
    ns = 'urn:GoogleSearch'
    key = 'xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'
    service = 'file:GoogleSearch.wsdl'
    query = ARGV.shift || 'foo'

    soap = SOAP::Driver.new(nil, nil, ns, endpoint)

    # uncomment the next line to dump the traffic on the wire
    #
    #soap.setWireDumpDev(STDERR)

    soap.addMethodWithSOAPAction('doGoogleSearch', ns, 'key', 'q', 'start',
    'maxResults', 'filter', 'restrict',
    'safeSearch', 'lr', 'ie', 'oe')
    r = soap.doGoogleSearch(key, query, 0, 10, false, nil, false, nil,
    'latin1', 'latin1')

    printf "Estimated number of results is %d.\n", r.estimatedTotalResultsCount
    printf "Your query took %6f seconds.\n", r.searchTime
    • let's keep in mind that this API will actually be decreasing Google pageviews and hits, which will in turn make their AdWords, AdWordsSelect, and textads less effective.

      Maybe. However, you can already use screen-scraping to query Google today. The difference is that Google will better know the difference between a program and an actual user. So each ad-word view may be more effective. Of course, now that Google offers pay-per-click (in place of pay-per-impression), that might not be an issue anyway.

      Will the number of actual ad impressions go down? Could be. But maybe by being a better product, Google will gain popularity and increase impression counts.

      As for supporting Google: Definitely; they make an unbeatable product.
  • by Idimmu Xul ( 204345 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @01:16PM (#3295803) Homepage Journal
    key = 'xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'

    I havent tried to get it to work yet, due to not having ruby installed, but does this imply some sort of subscription service?

    Possibly a new way for them to raise revenue? Im assuming that the bold line means the authors key has been blanked out so other people cant abuse this service for free?

    Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted! Reason: Too much repetition. :/

  • OpenGoogle? (Score:2, Funny)

    by VistaBoy ( 570995 )
    Are they going to release the source code to the search engine itself? That would be REALLY cool...

    We can finally find out how to implement their PigeonRank system...
  • by drok ( 78225 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @01:23PM (#3295822)
    Last year Google temporarily had an XML interface available using a query like: http://www.google.com/xml?q=slashdot

    Of course, now it's just forbidden. I am surprised they would go back to such a service, it would seem to wind up losing revenue for them depending upon whether or not people are good about passing along whatever Ad-words Google returns. They could expect the traffic to be low enough to not matter compared to the continued word-of-mouth benefit. Or access to the SOAP interface could be offered as a subscription model (pure speculation on my part).

    -Robert
    • See, with Google, the Ad's are really links that are for the most part relavant to the topic being searched for.

      If the results are returned using SOAP, then the backend surely would want to display the ads because a lot of the time, they are what the user is looking for.

      I know if I am looking to buy something search Google for vendors, I am more likely to choose a vendor from the Ads on the side. I figure it is a bit safer since these people actually have something invested in it.

      The only reason I can think that someone would filter out the ads is simply because they want to hurt Google. Who wants to hurt Google though?

      The click through rate is probably going to make things hard since there is no way to tell if a user clicked an ad. That just means a different guage...
  • Ode to Google :) (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Khalid ( 31037 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @01:29PM (#3295842) Homepage
    Google has been an enchantment for me since it's beginning !

    They have always made the right decision ! they have offered internet users an incredible asset ! and I was so much grateful when they decided to rescue Deja, a site something I just don't know how I can leave without !

    I view them as the most "honest and fair" site on the Net ! and without any doubt the most useful too.

    Go Google ! you are showing the right way ! to all these stupid-crapy-portal sites which have invaded the net, I just hope you manage to stay in business and prosper for a loooooong, looooong time :)
  • Using the API and a dictionary I could find the most google smacks.
  • it would have made the creation of my random google searcher [pbump.net] a bit easier, and faster.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Text ads shmext ads. They can easily be ignored. The thing that will pay for this kind of access is actually Google's pay-per-placement plan. Advertisers will pay for their sites being ranked high, not for their banners being shown to us. Any application that uses this API to search google will return those sponsored results, which is as good as a banner view. Actually, if it's targetted (only sponsored sites that are relevant to your search will be shown), both users and sponsors will be pleased.
    • Google does not have a pay for placement plan - if you are making reference to the practice of changing the order of search results based on advertiser dollars.

      That was the very thing that turned people onto Google. I very much doubt that they would change that.
      • Google does not have a pay for placement plan - if you are making reference to the practice of changing the order of search results based on advertiser dollars.

        Yes it does. When you search Google, it displays two distinct sets of results side-by-side. One set is based solely on PageRank values; the other (clearly marked "Sponsored Links") is based on advertising dollars. The problem with GoTo [overture.com] was that you had to scroll and click past pages and pages of sponsored links to get to the results scrolled by relevance.

  • IS this API going to have A system and method for enabling information providers using a computer network such as the Internet to influence a position for a search listing within a search result list generated by an Internet search engine, because that is what google is being sued for at the momment [slashdot.org]. Interesting they choose now to release the API. Almost as if they can show that the function is an intrigal part of a different system (by way of this new API), that they have a chance in the courts. I'll let you be the judge!
  • com.google.soap.search.GoogleSearchFault: Invalid authorization key: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    at com.google.soap.search.QueryLimits.lookUpAndLoadFr omINSIfNeedBe(Query
    ...

    Alas, looks like the rest of us won't be able
    to play with Google's beta SOAP service. Which makes quite a bit of sense - this would be a great way for Google to allow people to resell Google in a standardized way, be it from inside a program (scary, too easy to reverse engineer) or from some other web service (less scary. :-). It doesn't make much sense for Google to say, "Hey, world, come and use our search services for free without our ads."
  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @01:57PM (#3295920) Homepage Journal
    The keep adding groundbreaking features to their products and throwing them out as if it were no big deal. Don't they know they're supposed to beat the PR drum every time one of their engineers burps? Bunch of commies!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 06, 2002 @02:37PM (#3296065)
    They do an output without HTML already, but it looks like they've restricted access to it. Compare
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=blah&output =p rotocol4
    with
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=blah&output =w ashingtonpost
    with
    http://www.google.com/search? hl=en&q=blah&output=u nclesam

    -nonymous
  • by wka ( 23275 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @02:41PM (#3296092)
    First, here's a link to a current XML API for accessing Google:

    http://www.google.com/xml?q=slashdot [google.com]

    You'll (probably) get an error page.

    I read about this on Scripting News [scripting.com] in February:

    Dave Winer made an inquiry [userland.com] to Google about accessing this XML API.

    Their initial response [weblogs.com] was not very helpful, asking for the link to be removed, and saying that the link is "obviously reserved for Google partners." Eventually, Google let Dave access the API. Now, he sounds like he's under NDA [userland.com] about this.

  • been done... (Score:2, Interesting)

    CPAN already contains the WWW::Search API to many search engines (including Google until [I am told] they requested it be removed). Yes, internally, it works by parsing HTML, but it exports a (Perl) API.
    • Re:been done... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PhuCknuT ( 1703 )
      Yeah, but if it didn't need to parse html, it would be better for the client AND google in terms of cpu and bandwidth usage.
  • Terms of service (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Xepo ( 69222 )
    Rather than making the API something ya gotta pay for, couldn't they simply put it into the terms of service that the ads have to be shown in any software that uses the API? They could possibly offer different types of ads(text, pictures, etc.) so that you could even develop a text based app to use it and still stay within the terms of service. Have a nice little "Report a program not following the terms of service" link on the main page, and have all those people who love google help them out by reporting any programs they find that don't show the ads. Oh, and then also offer a pay-for service if they want so that the program dosen't have to show the ads.
    • Not all programs output in such a way that adverts would make sense. For example, I can imagine that someone may wish to run a program which analyzes how well ranked their site is based upon various words over time. The natural output for this could be a chart. What do you do with the adverts?
  • by Perdo ( 151843 ) on Saturday April 06, 2002 @05:32PM (#3296684) Homepage Journal
    Slash either needs to get a Google box or use these APIs to fix their search feature. There is so much haystack data compared to good needles on Slashdot and the search is so bad that most of the great gems of knowlege that Slashdot has generated might as well have never existed. It can take an hour to find even a popular poster's comments.

    Need to reference John Carmack's comments? Sorting him out of the masses is next to impossible. Even a comment poster as prolific as Signal 11 (arguabley slashdots first and greatest Karma Whore) is nearly impossible to find. First 30 matches of how many? You want to sort through jeffy124's 700+ comments and 24 submitted stories just to find the pertinate one I need by hand? Not to mention the benefit to Slashdot's editors, being able to follow a clear history of articles on a given subject to look for repeats and make more informed editorial commentary. If 90% of readers never read the comments, the editors owe that 90% the sort of editorial commentary attached to each story that only good research can provide.

    In fact, the editors could try it on an interim basis immediately, and provide the service to readers only if they had the resources. I sort of get the feeling that the editors are still thinking of slashdot as a small time blog run out of their apartment closet server.

    Run google on slashdot now and you get the news from three weeks ago. Incorperate a google box or google APIs into Slash so I could search today's news and I would Pay 10 cents of subscription funds per search in a heartbeat.

    Editors: look at the number of hits to your current broken search engine. Double that number because a dedicated google box would be so much better it would get used a whole lot more. Multiply that by 10 cents per search. See if the numbers work to afford the initial expenditure to get a nice yellow rack mount google box. Slashdot is sitting on a goldmine of data and no one can search it and Slashdot cannot profit from it without a nice pay per search subscription using the best engine available.
    • Just go to Google and add site:slashdot.org to your search.
      • Searched pages from slashdot.org for p3d0 .

        Results 1 - 10 of about 51. Search took 0.12 seconds.

        51 of 621 is no where close to good enough. The entire database must be indexed and parsed. Magic Google algorithms must dance upon the text and context.

        I want a search to say:

        results 1-50 of 621.
        sort by relavance.
        sort by score.
        sort by date.
        sort by number of replies.
        sort by total moderation done to comment.
        sort by the number of author's posts in story.

        So I can say, "gee, I remember p3d0 had at least 5 comments on that story and two of them were at least score 5" and the search engine finds all data sets that match, sorted by how closely they match. Slashdot is a convoluted enough system that the Slash crew may have to extend even Google a bit. But they are bright lads and if not too busy with day to day editing would find such a task within their abilities.
  • People can already access google through an API (perl modules exist already for instance) by making an API that parses the html. There is thus no reason for them to *not* make things available. It costs less to transmit the results without formatting information, its useful to people, .... Don't forget, google is pretty focused on usability; something which is one of the main things which has made them so popular IMO.
  • I was just thinking about incorporateing a Google search on my websites after an impressive experience with a few websites that employed their Free WebSearch plus SiteSearch [google.com] feature.

    This is even better. With this feature, I'll be able to SSI and/or push results using something as simple as SoapLite [soaplite.com] to get the job done.

    I sure hope other content providers are taking note. Imagine how useful (not to much fun) it would be to snap up stuff from places like MoreOver.Com [moreover.com]?

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