Microsoft Sparks Web Services for eBay

In a sign that once hypothetical Web services are being used in practical situations, eBay and Microsoft have invited developers to create ways for buyers and sellers to automate and manage business on the world’s most popular online auction site.

The companies are letting developers from eBay’s Developers Program use the auction platform and Microsoft’s Office productivity suite to create Web services (define), which allow applications to talk to one another to permit better business on the Web, to improve the way buyers and sellers conduct business.

Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates presented a demo of these services at the Microsoft Office System launch last October.

Specifically, developers may use Microsoft Office Excel 2003 spreadsheet and Microsoft Office FrontPage Web design applications to write services where eBay users could automate pricing and bid changes as needed.

Participants in the eBay Developers Program can use XML (define) application programming interfaces (APIs) (define) with FrontPage 2003 to design Web sites that display custom information on items for sale on eBay. FrontPage 2003 includes Web design and maintenance tools and customized data views for listing multiple auction items.

With Excel 2003, users can: use XML to integrate with the eBay API to customize list views, graphs and charts; catalog bulk items online or offline; and submit item listings. The software allows eBay buyers and sellers to create a transaction record, analyze buying or selling history, and use automated uploading processes to submit listings. The development would be of great interest to a variety of small businesses whose sales thrive via eBay auctions.

To try the solution, users can download sample code with the eBay listing management capabilities within Microsoft Office from the eBay Developer site.

Though still facing barriers to widespread adoption, such as insufficient security, interoperability and management options, Web services are moving past the hype and are beginning to appear in the market in a big way.

Though hardly the multi-billion-dollar industry many analysts expect it to be, the fact that Microsoft and eBay are working together on such solutions is indicative of just how far the still nascent market has come.

As more and more users flock to the Web, it is becoming increasingly imperative that developers — and businesses such as Microsoft who offer the software — find ways to automate major Web operations such as eBay to free up time for users and IT personnel.

Through all of this, Web services standards play a central role, and both Microsoft and eBay have done their part in creating and supporting them, respectively. eBay recently announced its support for key Web services standards such as SOAP (define) and the Java (define) programming language.

Adapted from

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