EBay plans to increase the programming tools it provides external developers so that they will be able to increase the volume and variety of applications they create for the company's marketplace.
The San Jose, California, company will release new SDKs (software development kits) and provide more technical resources to its community of third-party developers. It will also release new APIs (application programming interfaces) designed to create applications for eBay buyers specifically. The eBay Developers Program has about 45,000 members.
David Pesta, who developed and markets an application for eBay sellers, would give the thumbs up to any new APIs, but would frown on significant modifications of existing ones.
"Any additional API functionality is extremely welcome, but any changes to existing API functionality would be tremendously discouraging. They've been making so many changes in the past to the APIs that's it's been difficult to keep up with integration with eBay," said Pesta, whose application Auction Zealot automates and simplifies seller processes. "Every time they make changes to the existing API functionality, it is a tremendous amount of work retooling things on my end and makes the process of keeping things working right rather difficult."
Pesta has been very happy with eBay's terms and conditions for developers, which he says have gotten better recently. "They've gone through a number of transitions with the terms and conditions. They used to have extremely strict guidelines on various security procedures, things that were impractical and didn't actually help, but rather made life very difficult [for developers]," said Pesta, who is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "They have since eased up on a lot of those things and become a lot more practical with a lot of the different requirements to interface with them. It's become a lot easier, a lot better."
In recent years, large Internet companies like Google, eBay, AOL and Yahoo have courted external developers aggressively. Given the necessary tools, these programmers can create plug-ins, applications and extensions that enhance the Internet companies' services and boost their popularity and usage. Because they are built to work in conjunction with features and data from another company's online service, these external applications are commonly referred to as "mashups."
The developer news was announced by Max Mancini, eBay's senior director of platform and innovation, in a posting to the eBay Developers Program official blog on Tuesday. Mancini didn't indicate when these new tools will become available, nor did he provide many details about their functionality. EBay didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mancini, whose appointment as leader of the eBay Developers Program was also announced Tuesday, also oversees a new eBay team charged with fostering innovation.
The so-called Disruptive Innovation team was created to "explore new concepts and create new tools to allow our 222 million buyers, sellers and developers to make better use of the eBay platform," Mancini wrote. This innovation group will work closely with the developers program.
Previously, Mancini led eBay product development teams in areas such as trust and safety, customer support and stores.