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3/18/2005
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Google Mimics Amazon And EBay In Courting Software Developers

Google offers APIs and open-source code in hopes programmers will write software that adds to the search-engine's appeal

Like its fellow E-commerce leviathans Amazon.com and eBay, Google is facing a reality of the Internet business: It needs to court independent software programmers as well as customers. Google today launched code.google.com, a site for programmers interested in writing applications that work in coordination with Google's search site.

It initially includes four projects that Google developers have worked on and are releasing as open-source code through SourceForge, as well as application programming interfaces that are used to let other software interact with Google.

Companies like Google, Amazon, and eBay are increasingly courting outside programmers to create tools that interact with their Web sites, hoping to become online hubs of commerce with themselves as the technology platform in the middle of it. "One thing we really wanted to put up on Google Code was a way of bringing recognition to those people and groups who have created programs that use our APIs or the code we have released," writes Chris DiBona, open source program manager, on the Google Code page.

Amazon and eBay already are well down this road in courting developers to their Web platforms. For example, eBay last year took a small, invitation-only developer program that had been operating since 2000 and opened it to the public, making the API to its E-commerce software available for download and supplying a software development kit for it that works with popular developer tools from Borland, Microsoft, and companies that build tools based on the Java programming language.

Google acknowledges it's starting small with four projects aimed at engineers working in C++ or python. "We know that this is a somewhat limited audience," writes DiBona. "We made this decision specifically so we can work with a smaller community to iron out any bugs in our release and ongoing maintenance processes."

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