Yahoo begins the first leg of its rebuilding strategy by encouraging developers to galvanize its search results.
Playing off the belief that Web users turn to search engines to get
information to complete tasks, Yahoo May 15 released its new open developer
platform to let programmers write applications that boost the relevance of
the effort is the first leg of the
company's ambitious YOS (Yahoo Open Strategy),
a bid to rewire the company's software
SearchMonkey comprises three layers, Amit Kumar, director of product
management for Yahoo Search, told eWEEK May 13.
First, Yahoo partner publishers, such as The New York Times, Yelp, eBay and
StumbleUpon, share structured data with Yahoo. Third-party developers then
access this content through semantic markup languages, such as microformats and
RDF, standardized XML feeds, Web services APIs, and page extraction, to create widgets. These widgets will include
navigational links, reviews, contact information and locations to provide
enhanced search listings.
Finally, developers make these apps available in a gallery on Yahoo, from
which consumers can grab them to customize their searches.
"This is the beginning of the next generation of search, where search
is not going to be about text matching text but about task completion,"
Programmers may build two types of applications using SearchMonkey: enhanced
results and infobars.
Enhanced results replace the current standard results with a richer display,
so it's important that all the links in the enhanced results point to the site
to which the result refers.
A common example would be a restaurant search. Traditionally, a user might
enter a restaurant name and get a barebones synopsis in the teaser. Users would
then click the link and read up on the establishment.
An enhanced result would include images of the restaurant, deep links to
reviews and photos, and abstracts with ratings, addresses and other info-all presented
in a box without the user having to click anywhere.
Infobars, annotation applications that appear below existing search URLs,
can include metadata about the result, related links or content, and links for
user actions. This could include a review teaser pulled from a participating
Yahoo partner site.
Asked what might motivate a programmer to start building applications for
SearchMonkey, Kumar said the idea that developers could sculpt the new Yahoo
search experience would be empowering to most coders. More simply, programmers
who come up with a unique application will develop "street cred," and
get "picked up for plum positions" within companies.
That might not be enough for everyone, so to "foster innovation and
creativity," or in other words to tempt programmers to begin coding for
Yahoo Search, Yahoo is hosting a code-off of sorts.
The SearchMonkey Developer Challenge will award up to $20,000 in prizes for
the top applications in the categories of best enhanced result, best infobar,
most innovative use of structured data and best data service, as well as a
grand prize for best over all categories.
Developers have until June 14 to submit applications. The application
gallery will be available later in summer 2008.
Starting with SearchMonkey, Yahoo is essentially betting the company on YOS.
Its goal is to evolve from a siloed structure, where the service contract
existed between Yahoo and individual users, to broader access that allows the
company's 500 million-plus users to more freely share content.
In essence, Yahoo wants to become the premier social network, breaking down
the walls between its Webmail and instant messaging users, but also make its
portal the place to play by allowing users to access widgets.