Simon Willison’s Weblog


26 items tagged “web-services”


Is there a online service which provides details of all the events happening in a city?

The answer to this varies greatly from city to city. As a general rule though, no, there is no single service that can solve this (it’s actually an almost impossible problem to solve since events are by their nature decentralised).

[... 157 words]

Are there any website thumbnail services that generate images in real-time? generates images on demand—you pass the URL directly to the service and it replies with a PNG image. The first load can take a few seconds (depending on how long it takes the originating site to serve up the assets etc) but they cache the generated images so future requests for the same URL will be served instantly.

Is there an API that returns metadata for a given URL?

I suggest taking a look at—it can take a huge range of URLs and turn them in to JSON metadata. Here’s what it can do with a Wikipedia page:—and here’s Google Maps URL (not as useful, but still some interesting metadata extracted)

[... 69 words]


Yahoo! Term Extraction and Contextual Web Search services to be discontinued. The official closure date is August 31st. Term extraction was really useful—thankfully there are a number of decent alternatives such as Zemanta, OpenCalais and topia.termextract.

# 12th August 2009, 11:57 am / opencalais, termextractor, topia, web-services, yahoo, zemanta

geocoders. A fifteen minute project extracted from something else I’m working on—an ultra simple Python API for geocoding a single string against Google, Yahoo! Placemaker, GeoNames and (thanks to Jacob) Yahoo! Geo’s web services.

# 27th May 2009, 10:02 am / geocoders, geocoding, geonames, github, google, jacob-kaplan-moss, placemaker, projects, python, web-services, yahoo


The key thing to remember is that REST is about building software that scales to usage on the World Wide Web by being a good participant of the Web ecosystem. Ideally a RESTful API should be designed to be implementable by thousands of websites and consumed by hundreds of applications running on dozens of platforms with zero coupling between the client applications and the Web services.

Dare Obasanjo

# 24th October 2008, 1:39 pm / dare-obasanjo, rest, web-services

We’re Never Content. Amazon will be releasing a proper edge caching CDN on top of S3 “before the end of the year”.

# 18th September 2008, 12:30 pm / amazon, cdn, s3, web-services

If it's easy to make all your calls conform to the RESTful verb architecture, then that's good, I guess. But if not, then just use a POST as an RPC call, keep it as simple as possible and be done with it. And don't spend another minute worrying about being RESTful or not.

Damien Katz

# 15th August 2008, 8:07 am / damien-katz, http, post, rest, restful, rpc, web-services

GeoNames Commercial Webservices. Wikinear has been loading slowly recently, so I’ve signed up for GeoNames very reasonably priced commercial plan which provides access to better servers at their end. This might speed things up to the point that I can reliably run the site on Google AppEngine, which times out aggressively if an external HTTP request takes too long.

# 18th May 2008, 10:32 am / geonames, googleappengine, web-services, wikinear

Google AJAX Search API: Flash and Server Side Access. Over a year after Google shot down their SOAP Search API, they’ve quietly released a JSON based one under the guise of supporting “Flash and other non JavaScript environments”. Comes with the strange requirement that an HTTP referer be sent with every request; the API key is optional.

# 22nd April 2008, 7:16 pm / ajax, apis, google, json, search, soap, web-services

I've never heard anyone from the REST camp claim that building distributed systems was "easy". [...] The WS-* folks have historically been obsessed with making things easy, usually for an imaginary business analyst who is nowhere near as technically adept as they. The REST folks, on the other hand, seem much more interested in keeping the entire stack simple, and for everyone involved.

Ryan Tomayko

# 13th January 2008, 11:34 pm / rest, ryan-tomayko, simplicity, web-services, ws-star


Amazon SimpleDB overview. Attribute values are limited to 1,024 bytes; Amazon suggest that you store larger fields in S3 and use SimpleDB to query metadata about those objects.

# 14th December 2007, 11:39 am / amazon, metadata, s3, simpledb, web-services

What You Need To Know About Amazon SimpleDB. Amazon have finally launched the database component of their web service suite. It fits a bunch of current trends: key/value pairs, schemaless, built on top of Erlang. “Eventual consistency” is an interesting characteristic.

# 14th December 2007, 11:21 am / amazon, charles-ying, databases, erlang, hashtables, scaling, schemaless, simpledb, web-services

WS-dämmerung. Tim Bray collects the latest round of WS-* repenting, which saves me from linking to them individually.

# 22nd November 2007, 9:49 am / soap, tim-bray, web-services, ws-star

Amazon S3 Service Level Agreement (via) Went in to effect on the 1st of October. Promises 99.9% uptime over a monthly billing cycle or you get “service credits” towards future S3 payments.

# 9th October 2007, 12:52 am / amazon, jeffrey-mcmanus, s3, sla, uptime, web-services

OAuth: Your valet key for the Web. OAuth is a really important new specification that aims to solve the “give this application permission to do X on my behalf” problem once and for all.

# 21st September 2007, 11:34 pm / apis, authentication, oauth, openid, specification, web-services

WS-* is North Korea and REST is South Korea. While REST will go on to become an economic powerhouse with steadily increasing standards of living for all its citizens, WS-* is doomed to sixty years of starvation, poverty, tyranny, and defections until it eventually collapses from its own fundamental inadequacies and is absorbed into the more sensible policies of its neighbor to the South.

Elliotte Rusty Harold

# 7th July 2007, 9:40 am / elliotte-rusty-harold, korea, northkorea, rest, southkorea, web-services, ws-star

Now if WS-* technologies wants to own the niche of one proprietary platform technology talking to another in a homogeneous, closed environment...who cares? Good riddance I say. Just keep that shit off the Web.

Dare Obasanjo

# 26th May 2007, 10:23 pm / dare-obasanjo, web-services, ws-star

soaplib (via) New open-source Python SOAP library, with a pleasantly Pythonic looking API.

# 12th February 2007, 10:26 pm / jonathan-lacour, python, soap, soaplib, web-services

Web Services based on SOAP and WSDL are "Web" in name only. In fact, they are a hostile overlay of the Web based on traditional enterprise middleware architectural styles that has fallen far short of expectations over the past decade.

Nick Gall, VP Gartner

# 27th January 2007, 1:55 pm / gartner, soap, web-services, wsdl


The YDN Python Developer Center

I recently had the opportunity to put together the Python Developer Center for the Yahoo! Developer Network. YDN is one of my favourite parts of Yahoo! so I jumped at the chance, and the resulting mini-site is now online (YDN blog post here).

[... 235 words]

Web APIs, not Web Services

In Web Services are Dead, Long Live Web Services, Mark Nottingham suggests HTTP Web Services as a better phrase for discussing machine-to-machine communication using HTTP where the WS-* stack isn’t assumed.

[... 112 words]


Using JSON with Yahoo! Web Services (via) No more cross-domain script access problems.

# 15th December 2005, 11:53 pm / json, web-services, yahoo, ydn

Testing a new version of IXR

Almost two years to the day since the last release, I’ve put together a new version of IXR, my PHP XML-RPC library. I haven’t published it on the site just yet as I want to make sure any bugs are ironed out first, but you can grab a copy here:

[... 177 words]


Amazon web services

Amazon have launched a brand new web service interface to their huge database of products. I’ve been playing around with it, and I’ve knocked together a simple search engine example in PHP, with the code available for anyone who wants it. I did a similar thing a few months ago when Google released their Web API so we’ve set up a new site at Incutio to host these and other open source projects— The site is only a few hours old and we’d love some feedback—contact us directly or add a comment to this entry.