An API for the Web: Learning YQL

I just read one of the most interesting articles Net.Tuts+ has published in the last few months: An API for the Web: Learning YQL.

Web apps and web services multiply like rabbits. They’re all fun to play with (like rabbits) and fun to integrate into other projects (unlike rabbits). But learning a new API every other day isn’t feasible or fun. And that’s the problem the Yahoo Query Language (YQL) is out to solve.

Think of YQL as the API for the web, the one API to rule them all. It’s not a hard one to learn, so let’s get you up to speed right now!

I couldn’t have said it better myself. YQL is just that: a wrapper for other APIs. It makes it easy to gather data from virtually any API, mash data up if necessary, and bring it into your own application. With generous daily query limits, and no commercial usage restrictions, what’s not to like?

A basic query to collect tweets from two twitter accounts would look like this:

SELECT * FROM twitter.status.timeline.user WHERE id in ('redwall_hp','fantasyfolder')

Very much like an SQL query, no? And there are “tables” to obtain data from many sources, such as Delicious, Netflix, Facebook, Flickr, Github,, RSS feeds, etc.. Is there not a table for an API you need to use? You can create one.

Result sets can be returned as XML or JSON.

Developer tools like this and the BOSS search API, which is one of the available tables in YQL, are what I believe will keep Yahoo alive in the coming years.