Build Your Own Yahoo! Search Service (BOSS)

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.

From the BOSS blog:

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.

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.

I will cut right to the chase.

It appears to offer the same services as Microsoft and Google’s Custom search APIS but it will allow you to place more influence on how items are ranked… like by how many links they have from social sites or whatever algorithm you can come up with (to an extent). But really is this a needed service? It seems like we already have lots of search engines that rank according to social mentions.