At the Web 2.0 Expo, online auction giant eBay seems to finally be rethinking their user experience with the announcement of a new Apollo application currently called “Project San Dimas” released into a limited beta. The new application is meant to make buying and selling items on eBay more efficient, competing with third party “Power User” auction service giants Vendio and Marketworks, and the Y Combinator upstart Auctomatic. No word on whether it was named after the patron saint of reformed thieves (fraud detection?) or referencing the quiet suburb that served as the backdrop to “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”.
The project was started last year by Alan Lewis of the eBay Developers Program, and eventually became an internal initiative for eBay after being demoed last year at Adobe MAX in Las Vegas. Ryan Stewart blogged the demo and Rob Abbott, a member of the San Dimas team, also has some coverage. San Dimas features a UI created by EffectiveUI and uses eBay’s API’s to make creating, and managing auctions easier and faster. Because it’s written in Apollo, the program can improve performance by cutting down on repetitive requests for data, caching it locally instead. The application will also feature real-time auction monitoring and allow sellers to add in pictures directly uploaded from webcams and cameras.
Today’s release is made on the backdrop of a continuing controversy between Microsoft’s new Silverlight and Adobe’s Apollo, outlined by the WSJ today. Microsoft has already effectively lost as an online video standard to Adobe’s Flash. Silverlight marks the begining of a new battle over web standards as the two companies fight over the tools that will shape the future of web applications.