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Amazon offers Web services

Jun 04, 20033 mins
Amazon.comEnterprise ApplicationsWeb Development

* Web services helps to extend Amazon brand

Last July, launched Amazon Web Services as way of allowing third parties to, in effect, “window in” to Amazon’s product catalog. The company now claims to have some 25,000 developers although you’ve got to wonder how many real products will emerge from that group – the number of downloads of a free Software Developer’s Kit never equals the number of serious applications that appear.

Last month, Amazon released the next version of its SDK, which now allows syndication of Amazon’s shopping cart. This allows third parties to embed the shopping cart technology into their own Web sites.

Amazon provides access through XML over HTTP and Simple Object Application Protocol (SOAP) interfaces to return “structured data” in the form of product name, manufacturer, price, and so on. This data is extracted for products available on Amazon’s U.S. and U.K. Web sites as specified by parameters such as keywords and browse tree nodes.

The SDK uses Java and you’ll also need to apply for a Developer’s Token – a code that ties to your e-mail address and an associated password. The Developer’s Token is required for all transactions.

There are several ways that AWS can be used: First, you can create a static site consisting of a “home” page with links for each product that make an AWS request such as BrowseNode or AuthorSearch. Accompanying the request is a reference to an XSLT style sheet that will map the raw XML returned by the AWS request into the returned HTML page.

Alternatively you can use SOAP or XML to create a dynamic site where each page is built on demand.

Amazon also suggest using Pseudo-Static Sites where a program or script is used to fetch the AWS data needed to build the entire site which is then used to construct static pages.

The final choice for using AWS is in a dedicated nonbrowser client application.

The Amazon SDK site has some great examples including the Amazon browser powered by the TouchGraph Browser we discussed a few issues ago (see link below).

Amazon Web Services are not only a good example of the practical use of Web services but also a great example of how a sophisticated company can extend its brand to build new kinds of business relationships.

Check out examples of some third party sites using AWS:


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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