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Amazon opens web services kimono

But where's Henry Raddick?

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Build a business case: developing custom apps

There's more to web services than the promise of sacking your call center casual labor, and obliging the public to use fully automated self-service applications instead, of semi-automated human wetware.

On Tuesday Amazon.com opened its content to web services developers, easily the most significant e-commerce vendor to do so. Amazon becomes a platform, an API, and of course allows third parties to do some of the heavy lifting. (But not too much, as we'll see).

Amazon's new web services APIs (AWS) permit third party developers to access the store using either SOAP or XML over HTTP protocols. A simple example - an Amazon Light UI that takes after the Google look and feel - offers a glimpse what's possible. Right now Amazon permits transactions involving the product ID (the "ASIN"), browse ID, Listmania or by keyword.

Developers are limited to one call per second, or transactions no greater than 20k. Developers can't use the API to add content to Amazon.com in the form of reviews or lists; and of course, you can't cache the Amazon.com database on that server farm you have hidden under your desk.

Nor can you search by reviewer: so it's not possible to aggregate the opinions Amazon star reviewer Henry Raddick, just yet.

Amazon claims to be neutral on the subject of SOAP vs XML: supporters of the latter lose little opportunity in pointing out that the leviathan SOAP protocol allows vendors to apply proprietary extensions. The downloadable developer API for Windows and Macintosh platforms is free. ®

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