The expo floor at Microsoft PDC [Sept 12 to 16] was the usual mix of the cool and useful, but you had to be there to see that. We came back with enough rubber toys, nylon Frisbees, glow-in-the-dark pens, books and demo CDs to entertain the kids until the next show comes around. A slew of new software was being demoed, including Acrylic, Indigo and Office 12. If you caught any of the business press lately, you would think the Microsoft situation was dour. But the PDC show floor was busy and enthused.
It seems Google with its Web services API, at least according to the Pandoras at Business Week and Forbes, was ready not only to map the world and index its content, but to flat out take over the world as well. Let Google enjoy its youthful glow. Amazon.com was the first big timer to the Web services API battle, and it is much more in the mainstream of electronic commerce – Google, as of this moment, is still just a big advertising company.
To remind people that Amazon and Microsoft are still in the Web API hunt, the companies announced the Microsoft Visual Studio 2005/Amazon Web Services Developer Contest at PDC05. From now through Dec. 31, 2005, developers can compete for prizes by using Visual Studio 2005 to build applications that use product data and technology from the Amazon Web services platform.
This is definitely a case where cool meets practical. To date, developers have used these APIs to create sites that bring in various functions from across the web. Some call these sites "mash-ups." So you can test your .NET skills, have a mash-up, and compete for prizes too. The grand-prize winner will have his or her Amazon.com Wish List fulfilled with a value up to $5,000 (U.S.).
Visual Studio tools can access the Amazon Web services API via SOAP [Simple Object Access Protocol). "If you use the Amazon Web services API, the entire company becomes a programmable object," said Jeff Barr, Amazon. He points out the wide variety of items on Amazon site pages, adding that these items lead to all sorts of Amazon data.
Creativity has been great. People, he said, for example, have built links from their training programs to Amazon books. Of course, the popular book, "Amazon Hacks," outlines all sorts of programming that can be done. "People have great ideas. This is a mix of Amazon data and peoples' creativity," said Barr, who formerly worked with Microsoft.
He advises contestants to: "Put on their thinking caps and dream!"
Info on MS-Amazon developer contest - Amazon
Microsoft's mid-life crisis- Forbes
Jeff Barr's blog - Syndic8
Interview with Amazon's Barr - Channel9
Amazon hacks glance - Amazon
Google Announces Plan To Destroy All Information It Can't Index– The Onion [Humor]