Since Yahoo recently ~sold its search business to Microsoft (see this NYT article for details) a lot of people where asking themselves what would happen to the Yahoo search APIs, which are in fact some of the most powerful free tools out there to built search mashups with. As Simon Wilson indicates in this blog post, some of them (Term Extraction and Contextual Web Search) are closing down at the end of August. Programmable Web lists 33 mashups that use the Term Extraction service and these sites will either have to close down or start looking for alternatives. This highlights a problem that can be a true roadblock for developing applications making heavy use of APIs. My own termcloud search and its spiced up cousin contextdigger use Yahoo BOSS and quite honestly, if MS kills that Service, these experiments (and many others) will be gone for good, because Yahoo BOSS is the only search API that provides a list of extracted keywords for each delivered Web result.

If service providers can close APIs at will, developers might hesitate when deciding whether to put in the necessary coding hours to built the latest mashup. But it is mashups that over the last years have really explored many of the directions left blank by “pure” applications. This creative force should be cherished and I wonder if there may be a need for something similar to creative commons for APIs – a legal construct that gives at least some basic rights to mashup developers…

Post filed under search engines, society oriented design, web 2.0.

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