eBay Pushes Open Source Development

eBay is attempting to greenhouse the development of applications built on its Web services using the allure of open source. At its 2005 Developers Conference, eBay announced its Community Codebase program to provide developers with a place to collaborate and unleash their creative energies on open source projects.

To see its developers off to a good start, eBay has seeded the site with sample code including a proof-of-concept TiVo application that allows TiVo users to bid and search for items in eBay auctions. Other seeded code projects are an Eclipse plug-in and an eBay themed Firefox toolbar.

The site includes a "shared code" repository with version controls, mailing lists, an issue tracker, and a place to share documents and files.

Projects are only accessible by developers that have an eBay Developers Program User ID.

In a note addressed to developers, Greg Isaacs, Director of eBay's Developers Program, wrote, "eBay developers have consistently given us feedback that you'd like to collaborate on open source projects and exchange ideas with your fellow eBay developers. The eBay Community Codebase addresses this feedback by providing a place where you can work collaboratively on open source projects to build innovative applications."

Another announcement given at the 2005 Developers Conference was regarding changes being made to eBay's Individual Tier license that are designed to encourage growth among smaller, independent developers. Namely, the cap on free API calls has risen to 10,000 monthly from its previous limit of 50 daily calls.

Individual members are also now permitted to distribute their application, and the $100 self-certification fee has been lifted.

Google has taken a similar tact to build up a body of developers around its AdWords API. The API gives developers more creative control to better manage campaigns on their own, as well as further innovate the delivery of Google's text-based search ads.

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