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Working with the Yahoo! API

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Do your applications need to navigate the Web's search capabilities? This article explores how to integrate Yahoo! search into your software and Web-based applications. We focus specifically on the terms of service so you won't get in any trouble.
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The Yahoo! Application Programming Interface (API) was initially released in the first week of March 2005. The API allows developers to use the Representational State Transfer (REST) method to make program calls to Yahoo!'s various search services from any programming language that can make HTTP calls, including (but not limited to) .NET, C/C++, Java, PHP, Perl, JavaScript, and Flash.

While I was preparing this article, the Yahoo! API team continued adding new functions and features that developers can plug into, including the most recent (March 31, 2005) term extraction services, which analyze text and an optional query and return a list of key concepts from the text. This could be useful for finding contextual meaning in content. From a developer's perspective, this launch has been extremely exciting.

Three principles are important to understand about using the Yahoo! web services API:

  • Unauthorized uses of web services. Yahoo! specifically prohibits using their web services for spyware or incorporating into spyware or malware, or in association with any illegal activity and/or attempts circumvent the rate limits. Rate limits are the number of results and times that a specific service can be called per day.
  • Commercial applications. For commercial applications and services, such as a selling application that uses Yahoo! web services, or charging users to access the web services, Yahoo! requires that you get permission before deployment. Write to
  • Application requirements. All applications must include an application ID and proper attribution to Yahoo! Search (that is, "Powered by Yahoo! Search").
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