Blog Posts by Chris Heilmann

  • Opening the web and retrieving all the goodies

    The internet is an interesting thing, as it is a bit like the matrix. Whilst normal end users see something like this:

    thedailypuppy.com

    Developers have the more outside-the-matrix point of view as we tend to look at the data behind the facade:

    thedailypuppy.com with source code

    And if you are one of the true believers in web2.0/web3.0 where the web is the platform and the framework then it turns into something like this:

    wall of sweets

    There is nothing better than yummy yummy data that you can retrieve, mix with the right other ingredients and spices to create something that is even healthier, more nutritious or even caters for special diets. In essence, giving access to data will make your product all the more successful as other chefs can cater for you.

    Getting to the yummy parts of one or several sources can be a bit of an problem though. Imagine a tin of good solid food you want to get to. The easiest and most versatile tool would be a swiss army knife with a can opener.

    swiss army knife

    The web equivalent of a pocket knife is cURL, a library that allows a

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  • Good news about YUI: GitHub, documentation builder and ARIA-enabled widgets

    If you thought that the YUI team had gone into hibernation to prepare for the spring and the final release of YUI3 - think again. There are three great pieces of news revolving around our beloved development framework:

    YUI is now available on GitHub: http://github.com/yui. This has been a constant thorn in the side of the developer community - that whilst YUI is free (BSD license) people weren't able to commit or check out the code directly from a version control system. Git seemed to be a good solution, and there are instructions on how to use it available from the YUI team.

    The team now also made YUI Doc - the tool that creates the YUI API Docs available for everybody. It is a python script and allows you to keep maintenance easy whilst providing implementers with valuable information.

    Last but not least Todd Kloots, developer of the YUI menu, released a video of his tutorial on Developing Accessible widgets with ARIA.

    Rock on YUI!

    Chris Heilmann
    Yahoo Developer Network

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  • Cheese Dreams – the Yahoo Developer Network evening in Grenoble, France

    Last week Sophie Major, Jose Palazon and Chris Heilmann went to Grenoble, France to introduce the Yahoo Developer Network to the local developer community. It was the first Yahoo event of this kind in the city in the heart of the Alps and we are happy to pronounce it a success.
    Fortified with a quick visit to the local Christmas market and a three-cheese fondue we arrived early in the Yahoo! offices to get the Yahoos on the ground ready for what we planned on the evening.

    Yahoo Developer Network at Grenoble, France

    Around thirty developers showed up at the evening to join us in the recreation area of the Yahoo office to learn about the ideas of the Yahoo Developer Network and get a quick introduction to some of the APIs, web services and SDKs we offer.

    Jose introduced the Blueprint mobile platform:

    A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

    And we introduced the audience to some APIs and tricks to use them:

    A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

    All in all it was a great experience and we hope to be back soon and see how local companies, startups, and developers are able to use our offerings to build

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  • Finding relevant keywords for any term using Yahoo! Boss

    One of the new features of Yahoo! BOSS is that it returns relevant keywords for each of the search results. You can use this to match a search term with relevant keywords for example to increase the search engine visibility of your web site. I've just released a free tool to do this for you: Keywordfinder. Here's a short explanation on how you can do the same only using JavaScript.

    Before we start, make sure you get an application ID for BOSS. Got one? Good, let's go!

    The plan to get to the keywords is simple: perform the search, get all the keywords and find out which keywords are most frequent.

    Turning that into to code is not quite as simple but not really magic either.

    First of all, we need to get the information from BOSS by assembling the right REST call and define a callback function.

    The URL for that is:

    
    
    http://boss.yahooapis.com/ysearch/web/v1/{term}?
    
    format=json&callback=mycallback&count=50&
    view=keywords&appid={your-app-id}
    

    This will search the web for term, return the

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  • Hacking with our Friends in Europe

    We just returned from two solid events on the BOSS Hack Day world tour. Two weeks ago we were in London and drew a range of developers, including a few who were completely new to the platform and a handful of experienced BOSS hackers (such as the developer from BuildaSearch).

    The Paris event stood out for a couple of reasons. First, we were really pleased with the turnout. The event took place at a well-known Parisian co-working center called La Cantine that seemed to be a hub of the developer community in Paris – and it was packed. Even more impressive was how engaged everyone was. We started with a one-hour overview and technical discussion, broke for sushi and beer, and then split into two workshops – one on the BOSS Mashup Framework and one on building niche search engines using the BOSS API.

    Almost all developers stayed until 10:30 p.m. or later to learn more about BOSS and shared some excellent feedback on where we should take the product. Although neither of us speaks a lick

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  • Build your own site specific search engine with BOSS

    We've written a lot about BOSS here before, but somehow I thought there's a quick example missing how you can use it to build a full custom search box on your server.

    Seeing that I had trouble to access search results of this blog on the Blackberry (not our blog's fault, but the browser it comes with), I had a go and created a much easier interface to searching this blog. Here's a quick how-to explaining the steps to the interface.

    Check out the example

    First of all, check out the result of the whole exercise. Following are some screenshots with explanations:

    The search result display with unexpanded keywords

    Unexpanded search results

    The search result display with expanded keywords

    Expanded search results

    The search result display with previous and next links

    Unexpanded search results

    Download the example

    You can download the whole solution, ready for uploading to your server. The code is heavily commented so we won't go through it here line by line here.

    Requirements

    The example as it is requires you to get an own application ID for boss and have a server

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  • Oi! Open Hack Day Brazil was a blast

    Last weekend hundreds of Brazilian (and other Latin American) hackers came to the Senac University in Sao Paulo, Brazil to compete, meet and share information at the Open Hack Day.

    brazilopenhackday.jpg

    I arrived a day early to help the local team plan the tech talks and set up the hack day. I was joined later by my Sunnyvale colleagues Erik Eldridge and Zach Graves and we distributed the topics we wanted to talk to the hackers about. We ended up covering the whole spectrum of the Yahoo Open Strategy - YQL, YAP, BOSS, SearchMonkey, oAuth and so on. With the help of local colleagues (who presented in Portuguese and thus making it easier for hackers) we also covered the basics of ethical hacking, where to find mashable data and how to approach a hack.

    The hack day was organized into a few hours of tech talks, followed by hours and hours of hacking, playing games (Wii, Air Hockey, Table Football, a real pinball machine and some Brazilian version of table football using small disks), listening to music and

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  • BOSS at the Open Hack Day in Sao Paulo, Brazil

    This weekend we were in Sao Paulo, Brazil to have about 400 hackers deliver 30 hacks on the first South American Open Hack Day. Further to Erik's general thoughts on the Open Hack Day (more to follow) here's a quick overview about the BOSS related happenings.

    With the idea of promoting the Yahoo Open Strategy the Yahoo speakers present (Erik Eldridge, Zach Graves and me) agreed to concentrate each on one of the components of YOS. I got the task to introduce BOSS to the hack crowd and took the obvious route by explaining how to use it to find donkeys on the web:

    A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

    During the course of the hack day I had more and more hackers ask me how to get and - more importantly - how to convert and display information when using BOSS. To make this whole affair a lot easier, I decided to write a small JavaScript wrapper library for BOSS called yboss. Using this one you can for example display the top search results, images and news items for the search term "obama" with the following few lines of

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  • Create a niche search engine with Yahoo! BOSS

    The Yahoo! BOSS API allows you to access the Yahoo! search index with new levels of freedom. You can rearrange the results, change their look, have unlimited requests, mash the results with other resources, and you don't even have to let people know that Yahoo! is powering the page. Many people are busy mashing the BOSS results with internal data sets, proprietary logic, and new visual interfaces.

    BOSS is perfect for creating a niche search engine. With just a few tweaks, you can create a site that is finetuned to your particular subject. This article will walk you through some of those options.

    Any Volkswagen afficianado can tell you it is difficult to find good information in search engines. VWs unfortunately do not have unique model names. Searching for information about a Rabbit, Bug, Beetle, and Golf is frustrating. You have to dig through thousands of results about insects, mammals, and Tiger Woods [sample unfiltered search result (.xml)]. However, we can create a killer VW

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  • Moving on with the style of conferences: was a great success

    Last weekend (including Friday) we were part of something new and groundbreaking: the conference was the first fully interactive conference held on the internet with 73 speakers in numerous countries, each of which didn't have to leave their homes to talk to the attendees. The following is a screenshot of the conference organizers inside Adobe Connect (the technology the largest part of the conference relied on):

    The <head> team

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