Fun With Google's APIs

A free tutorial from IBM shows you how to develop your own applications that harness the behind the scenes capabilities of one of the web's most powerful search engines.

Last spring, Google figuratively opened up its kimono to programmers around the world, offering free access to its APIs (application programming interface) service. Anyone who downloads Google's developer kit and registers for access can run programs using Google Web APIs.

Using Google APIs, your programs can issue search requests to Google's index of more than 3 billion web pages and receive results as structured data that you can manipulate as you please. Your programs can also access information in the Google cache, and check the spelling of words. Google Web APIs support the same search syntax as the site.

A free tutorial from IBM takes you in a step-by-step fashion through the creation of four separate applications using Google APIs.

The first sends a search query to the Web service and retrieves and analyzes the individual and aggregated results using only Java skills.

The second application retrieves a specific Web page from the Google cache.

The third demonstrates Google's spelling suggestion capabilities.

The last part of the tutorial discusses the different SOAP messages used by the Web service, and the process of sending them directly to the Google Web service.

Writing programs using Google APIs isn't for everyone. You need a certain degree of programming skill, and a willingness to futz around with debugging your code when it doesn't quite work the first time. But if harnessing the behind the scenes power of one of the web's biggest search engines for your own applications sounds appealing, Google's Web APIs make it a relatively easy process.

Google Web APIs
Download the developer kit and register for an account from Google here. Also includes links to FAQs and other sources of help.

Building Web Service Applications With the Google API
This free tutorial from IBM takes you step by step through using the Google API. Registration is required, but you can opt out of receiving any email from IBM. You should be familiar with Java programming language, and will need an Internet connection to access the Google service. An understanding of Web services is not required to use the API.

Google APIs Discussion Group
Help and discussion is available via this Google Group dedicated to web APIs.

Search Engine Forums Spotlight

Google SEO guidelines and Webmaster guidelines
ihelpyou Forums
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Controversial new document by Google
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Interesting new SEO guidelines from Google
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What makes an ODP listing so special?
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Search Engine Forums Spotlight courtesy Search Engine Guide.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.