Google unveils Web search engine query API

Google on Thursday released Google Web APIs (application programming interfaces) service, which enables developers to query more than 2 billion Web documents accessible from the Google search engine via their own computer programs, according to the company.

The free beta service uses SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and WSDL (Web Services Description Language) Web services standards so developers can program in their favorite environment, including Java, Perl, or Visual Studio. Net, according to Google.

"Basically, our approach is an experiment to see what people do with it," said John Piscitello, Google Web APIs marketing manager, in Mountain View, California, of the service. Developers have expressed a strong interest in the service, he said.

"There are different things they're interested in doing. One of them is searching from a different type of interface," Piscitello said. Also, "a lot of people are interesting in monitoring the Web for new information on different subjects," said Piscitello.

Applications can be built to glean market research via the Google search engine, for example, he said.

The use of SOAP allows invocation of a remote service on the Google site, according to Piscitello. Developers can download the developer kit for the Google Web APIs service at google.com/apis. Developers must first open a Google account and obtain a license key.

An early user of the service has used it for Web logging, which entails keeping track of specific articles on the Web. Google Web APIs service enables integration of searching and Web content management, said the user, Dave Winer, chief executive officer of Radio UserLand, a Millbrae, Calif.-based developer of systems for Web log editing and content management.

"Everybody's going to use it in a different way," Winer said. Researchers, for example, can track a subject for long periods of time and look for changes, he said.

Google is taking a wait-and-see approach to where it will go with the service. "We're encouraging people to try it out and let us know what they'd like to see from us," Piscitello said.

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