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7/10/2008
02:41 PM
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Yahoo Wants You To Build Your Own Search Service

BOSS removes many of the usage restrictions on Yahoo's search APIs, encouraging developers to create "credible alternatives to Yahoo and Google."

Even as Yahoo's fate plays out like a telenovela -- Will blushing Yahoo yield to Microsoft? Will Carl and Steve and Jerry reconcile with a group hug? -- the 14-year-old Silicon Valley search and social portal wants a rematch against Google.

As part of its gambit to regain its cred as a search leader and contender, a plan otherwise known as the Yahoo Open Strategy, Yahoo on Thursday introduced Yahoo Search BOSS. That's BOSS as in "Build (your) Own Search Service," with an implied promise of user control.

In a blog post, Yahoo explains that its goal is to "foster innovation in the search landscape," the implication being that Google's dominance of search has led to the sort of stagnation that plagued the browser market before Firefox came knocking on Microsoft's door.

"As anyone who follows the search industry knows, the barriers to successfully building a high quality, Web-scale search engine are incredibly high," Yahoo says. "Doing so requires hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in engineering, sciences, and core infrastructure -- from crawling and indexing technology to relevancy and machine learning algorithms, to stuff as mundane as data centers, servers, and power. Because competing successfully in Web search requires an investment of this scale, new players have effectively been prohibited from delivering credible alternatives to Yahoo and Google. We believe the BOSS platform will begin to change that."

Yes, Yahoo, has made the transition from portal to platform, joining the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, to name a few.

BOSS allows developers to write programs that utilize the Yahoo search index though an application programming interface. Yahoo has had search APIs, but with BOSS many of the usage restrictions are gone. This makes it possible to use Yahoo's platform for a real business rather than hobby.

Using BOSS, developers can re-rank and re-mix search results in conjunction with other Web content. And they can present this information in a custom user interface, without Yahoo branding.

Initially, Yahoo is making its Web, news, and image search indices available. The company plans to add additional search verticals in the future.

A number of Web startups have been testing BOSS: Me.dium.com, maker of a social browsing toolbar; Daylife, which offers a customizable news portal; and Cluuz, a search engine that organizes results by semantic clusters and tags.

Further information can be found at the Yahoo Developer Network.

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