BOSS — The Next Step in our Open Search Ecosystem

  • Posted July 9th, 2008 at 8:00 am by Yahoo! Search
  • Categories: BOSS

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Today, Yahoo! Search is taking another step in extending the Yahoo! Open Strategy with the launch of Yahoo! Search BOSS, a web services platform that allows developers and companies to create and launch web-scale search products by utilizing the same infrastructure and technology that powers Yahoo! Search.

Our goal with BOSS (Build your Own Search Service) is simple — foster innovation in the search landscape. As anyone who follows the search industry knows, the barriers to successfully building a high quality, web-scale search engine are incredibly high. Doing so requires hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in engineering, sciences and core infrastructure — from crawling and indexing technology to relevancy and machine learning algorithms, to stuff as mundane as data centers, servers and power. Because competing successfully in web search requires an investment of this scale, new players have effectively been prohibited from delivering credible alternatives to Yahoo! and Google. We believe the BOSS platform will begin to change that.

So what is BOSS?
BOSS is a new, open platform that offers programmatic access to the entire Yahoo! Search index via an API. BOSS allows developers to take advantage of Yahoo!’s production search infrastructure and technology, combine that with their own unique assets, and create their own search experiences. While search APIs have been available for some time, BOSS removes many of the usage restrictions that have prevented other companies from using them to build innovative new search engines.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s available today:

  • Ability to re-rank and blend results — BOSS partners can re-rank search results as they see fit and blend Yahoo!’s results with proprietary and other web content in a single search experience
  • Total flexibility on presentation — Freedom to present search results using any user interface paradigm, without Yahoo! branding or attribution requirements
  • BOSS Mashup Framework — We’re releasing a Python library and UI templates that allow developers to easily mashup BOSS search results with other public data sources
  • Web, news and image search — At launch, developers will have access to web, news and image search and we’ll be adding more verticals soon
  • Unlimited queries — There are no rate limits on the number of queries per day

These capabilities are really just a first step — we’re already working on expanding the API functionality and providing more access to Yahoo! Search Technology.

In addition to a self-serve API, we’re also partnering with a handful of Internet companies with large user bases or unique assets to collaboratively develop next gen search products using Yahoo!’s full suite of search technology. To learn more about BOSS Custom, click here.

What’s in it for Yahoo! and partners?
Why would Yahoo! open up its search infrastructure and technology to developers, entrepreneurs and companies who could use it to compete with us? It’s really quite simple. First, we believe that being open is core to Yahoo!’s future success — opening our network, opening our own search experience via SearchMonkey, and now opening our search infrastructure via BOSS — will lead to innovation both on Yahoo! and powered by Yahoo!. For BOSS, we see a virtuous circle in which partners deliver innovative search experiences, and as they grow their audiences and usage we have more data that can be used to improve our own Yahoo! Search experience and as a result, improve the quality of results our BOSS partners and their users get. Second, we do see new revenue streams from BOSS. In the coming months, we’ll be launching a monetization platform for BOSS that will enable Yahoo! to expand its ad network and enable BOSS partners to jointly participate in the compelling economics of search.

What’s in it for users?
More choice. BOSS will enable a range of fundamentally different search experiences. These new search products will provide value to users along multiple dimensions, such as vertical specialization, new relevance indicators and ranking models, and innovative UI implementations. Our hope is that the resulting expansion in user choice will have the effect of fragmenting the increasingly consolidated search market in much the same way that cable TV dramatically increased programming choices for television viewers.

Kick the tires and get started
Want to kick the tires on what BOSS-powered search could look like? As part of an alpha program, we’ve been working with a handful of start-ups and developers who have already begun using BOSS. Here are a few early examples of what’s possible with BOSS:

  • Me.dium, a start-up that’s built an innovative collaborative browsing product used BOSS to build a web-scale search engine that leverages its real-time surfing data. By combining the depth of the Yahoo! Search index with its insight into where users are browsing, Me.dium can provide its users with a unique buzz-based search experience.
  • Hakia, a semantic search start-up, is using BOSS to access the Yahoo! Search index and dramatically increase the speed with which it can semantically analyze the web. With BOSS providing this important infrastructure, Hakia is able to deliver a language search experience that isn’t available from any of the “big three” search providers or other semantic search engines.
  • Daylife To-Go is a new self-service, hosted publishing platform from Daylife. Anyone can use this platform to generate customizable pages and widgets. Daylife To-Go uses the BOSS API platform to power its web search module.
  • Cluuz, a next-generation search engine prototype, generates easier-to-understand search results through semantic cluster graphs, image extraction and tag clouds. The Cluuz analysis is performed in real-time on results returned from the BOSS API.

To learn more about BOSS and get started using the API, visit the Yahoo! Developer Network. BOSS is open to all — so check out the documentation, get a BOSS app ID and start building the next generation of search.

The BOSS Team

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