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Issue 3.2

REVIEW

WSL-Amazon

Issue: 3.2 (November/December 2004)
Author: Toby Rush
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,286
Starting Page Number: 10
Article Number: 3207
Related Web Link(s):

http://www.ebutterfly.com/

Full text of article...

As internet connectivity continues to be a foregone conclusion for computer users, net-savvy software is becoming more and more commonplace. Whereas web browsers allow general web access, programs which offer a very specific and specialized type of internet use allow the user to access information on the web in a way that gives them more control over how they receive or understand that information.

Online companies are beginning to realize this more and more, and many are offering APIs to access their online data in a "raw" form. Electric Butterfly's WSL series promises to allow REALbasic developers to take advantage of this concept for three supremely popular web companies: Amazon.com, Google, and eBay.

Though packages for accessing the latter two of these sites are still unreleased, a system for using Amazon's API has just been released under the name WSL-Amazon. It consists of a set of REALbasic classes which allow the programmer to provide a complete interface to the online retail giant within a REALbasic program. To take advantage of this system, the developer must first register with Amazon.com to take part in its web services program; this registration requires an agreement to Amazon's terms, but is free.

After adding the WSL-Amazon classes to your project (and registering with Amazon.com), using the system is a matter of initializing the class (using WSLamazon.Initialize) and then issuing commands. Generally the first order of business for a customer is searching the Amazon.com database, a feat accomplished in WSL-Amazon by issuing one of any number of search commands like WSLamazon.KeywordSearch or WSLamazon.AuthorSearch.

Amazon provides an immense amount of product information for each item in its catalog, and all of this information is available to the WSL-Amazon classes. Once a search has been made and matching products have been found, 33 different properties (from product availability to target age group) are provided to describe the product in detail; developers can even access the raw XML data returned by the Amazon servers.

In addition to searching and perusing product descriptions, WSL-Amazon provides access to customer product reviews and the Amazon Marketplace (a place where customers can buy and sell merchandise). The system also provides shopping cart technology so customers can make purchases without ever opening a web browser.

The WSL-Amazon classes provide comprehensive coverage of Amazon's web services for REALbasic users, and the documentation, while a little cluttered, is exhaustive. The project comes with an example project which clearly illustrates how to use the classes to their fullest. Perhaps the only drawback is that the classes are not quite as object-oriented as one might expect; rather than providing product data in a WSLamazonProduct class, for example, all data for all found products is retrieved via properties of the single WSLamazon socket subclass.

This small organizational glitch aside, however, the classes provide an exciting capability to REALbasic programs. Developers should be on the lookout for WSL-Amazon's sister projects, WSL-Google and WSL-eBay, which will most likely follow suit.

End of article.