Yahoo Pitches the Lazy Developer

The company says its Yahoo Developer Network is perfect for impatient programmers.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.-Yahoo wants to appeal to lazy developers.

Jeremy Zawodny, a developer with Yahoo and a leader of the Yahoo Developer Network, spoke April 8 at the Evans Data Corp. Developer Relations Conference here on the issue of laziness and impatience in developers.

Zawodny said that in the business of creating developer programs, the Web services and APIs Yahoo offers are part of the company's effort to boost its ecosystem and indicate that "there is a lot we can offer without money associated with it."

He was responding to the notion that many organizations apparently believe the surest way to developers' hearts and minds is to give them a way to make money.

However, "developers are lazy and impatient; if you cannot help them make money, give them tools, share your expertise, build a community, let them have fun," Zawodny said.

Moreover, he said, Yahoo is able to "appeal to the true nature of developers. They want free stuff. Developers are too busy to learn a lot of new things, overly optimistic, expected to know about new technologies, lazy-they want to do the least work for the most gain-and impatient-they want it now."

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Zawodny gave three examples of how Yahoo caters to these developers.

The first is the YUI (Yahoo User Interface) library, which is a JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets framework that has several features that make it easier for developers to build applications. It abstracts away browser differences to help developers build applications.

YUI is 2 years old and has more than 9,000 community members. There are more than 1 billion files served for people who don't want to host their own, Zawodny said. There have been more than 650,000 downloads of the YUI source package, more than 2 million page views a month and more than 20,000 subscriptions to the YUI blog, he said.

Another Yahoo technology is YSlow, a utility for optimizing Web sites for better performance, particularly for the Firefox browser.

Yahoo also has a lot invested in the Apache Hadoop technology. Hadoop, an open-source implementation of MapReduce and the Google File System, is used by Amazon, Facebook and others. Yahoo also has the largest production cluster running Hadoop.

"We have adopted Hadoop internally for our search platform," Zawodny said. "We're taking the experience we have and contributing to the open-source project to make it easier for us and make it easier for the world."

Many of the core Hadoop committers and contributors are on the staff at Yahoo, he said.

Yahoo founded YDN in 2005 as a skunkworks project in the search group, focused on search APIs and a simple REST (Representational State Transfer) interface, Zawodny said. The initial focus was on developer innovation for the search team, but it became a companywide effort. It later spread beyond the company.