Yahoo BOSS: Build Your Own Search Engine
Yahoo continues its foray in the world of openness with the release of Yahoo BOSS: Build Your Own Search Service. This is the second announcement -- the first being Yahoo SearchMonkey -- that is part of their new directive called Yahoo!Open Strategy, or Y!OS and a move they hope will take away a bit of Google's strong-hold on the search market. BOSS gives third parties access Yahoo's infrastructure and technology through a set of APIs that allow developers to build their own customized search engine. They take Yahoo's search results and then using Yahoo's index and ranking methodologies customize the results.

Three Levels of BOSS Service

There are three levels to the BOSS Service:

Level 1: self-service API

Developers have access to the BOSS Search API to submit queries with parameters. They can retrieve up to 50 results -- web, image, news, spelling -- in XML or JSON format at a time.

Yahoo also provides a Mashup Framework that enables developers to incorporate their own data with results from Yahoo's main index, including results from other search engines. This framework is an experimental python library. The API is expected to be used by partners who want to build their own search engine: social, vertical or visual as examples.

Level 2: API program for academics

Yahoo calls this level BOSS university and it's a partnership with top universities that will allow them to use BOSS in their research.

Level 3: BOSS Custom

Yahoo provides cloud based search. Yahoo is working with a small partner set to help them integrate Yahoo search results into their own search engines. According to TechCrunch the Search API is only the start with Yahoo "providing cloud-based search for all imaginable types of data." TechCrunch themselves is working with Yahoo: "We’re working on a search implementation that will enable readers to conduct searches across the entire network and retrieve results that have been weighted using a custom relevance model. Readers will also be able to drill down by author, comments, date, and other criteria." There are two types of partnerships that will evolve with the BOSS Custom Search: * Partners have their own ranking and/or presentation methodologies - i.e. Hakia who will use Yahoo BOSS to accelerate QDEXing and semantic analysis of content * Partner with Proprietary Data: i.e. Me.dium, who has a Social Toolbar and will use BOSS to create a social search engine

What's In This for Yahoo

It's obvious that Yahoo wants to steal some of Google's search share away. For them, this is a unique and potentially dangerous approach as it could take share away from them as well. "This is a bold direction for any search principal to take," he said. "We're expecting this to disrupt the market, and that includes ourselves." says Prabhakar Raghavan, chief strategist for Yahoo Search. They also have plans to make money off it eventually -- when they decide all is working as expected, Yahoo will require ads be displayed next to or within the search results. But there will be no requirement to mention that this service is being used, nor will there be any caps on daily queries or design standards imposed. In an interview with the IndiaTimes, Raghavan said: "Were Yahoo's search services to be embraced by new start-ups, Yahoo envisions a scenario in which its market share might remain steady but its resale partners and developers would explode, taking share from rival Google. " Looks like maybe our 75 Bleeding-Edge Search Engines piece may need to get seriously updated if BOSS takes off! You can get all the developer information on BOSS on their Developer Network.