There is new debate whether Google Inc. and other leading search engines should standardize the way computer programmers get at their storehouses of information.
Also at issue is how often a developers application is entitled to dip into a search engines Internet catalogs.
The discussion focuses on a common API, a way in which computer programs interact. Companies dont have to release an API, yet many do because its an inexpensive way to expose products and services to a wider audience.
Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Corp.s MSN, the three leading search engines, each have different APIs. Each allows computer programmers to create services that use material that the search engine collected.
In the search, Google limits computer programs to 1,000 inquiries a day. Microsofts cap is 10,000, while Yahoo Inc. allows 50,000 queries a day. Ideally, software writers say, queries should be unlimited.
Web pioneer Dave Winer suggested last week in a widely read Weblog posting that Yahoo and Microsoft should copy Googles API and adopt it as their own, and also lift the cap on inquiries.
"We got a good demo of what might be, now three years later, its time for the real thing," Winer wrote on his blog. He said in an interview Monday that a common search API is "inevitable."
He added that if unlimited queries are not possible, the companies should make the limit practical for serious Internet applications, "Perhaps 1 million queries per day? Lets work this out."
Winer most recently sold his Weblogs.com business, an important blogging company, to VeriSign Inc. for several millions of dollars.
Winers view is supported by Robert Scoble, a Microsoft technical evangelist. On his blog, Scoble wrote that cloning the Google API "wont be easy. We are rapacious, greedy businesspeople who dont like to share a service that costs tens of millions of dollars. Google knows this and is laughing all the way to the bank."
A Google spokesperson said the company "has no plans to change the API" in answer to Winers call for unlimited access by developers. The spokesperson had no immediate comment on Winers suggest of adopting a common API.
Winers notion, discussed by hundreds of bloggers in the last few days, has some detractors.
Many point out that even with a common API, the goal of ubiquitous, unfettered search programs still wont be possible, because the search industry has yet to settle on a common language to use to make actual search inquiries.
"I dont think there is much of a prospect for that to change for a while," one commenter wrote recently on the blog Mackmo.