In a demonstration of just how open Yahoo search can be, one of its senior engineers has created a simple search mashup that combines Yahoo’s BOSS framework and Google’s App Engine. Yahoo BOSS allows developers to create their own customized search apps based on Yahoo’s search engine, and the Google App Engine is a platform for hosting apps. Vik Singh, the engineer who leads the Yahoo Boss project (and a former Google engineer) created a simple Question-Answering Service, where you put in a question, and it tries to come up with the answer based on the top 50 results from Yahoo. (So, if you ask, “Who invented the light bulb?,” it looks for the most popular dates in the top 50 results and returns: “Thomas Edison”).
Singh explains in his blog that he was able to create this demo with just 50 lines of code. This is not the first time a Yahoo BOSS app is running on Google’s App Engine (Cuil knock-off Yuil, now 4hoursearch, is also a mashup of the two services). But it does show how seriously Yahoo is taking its open-search strategy.
As I’ve argued in the past, Yahoo needs to out-open Google if it is going to have any chance at competing in search. Even if it’s too late to catch up to Google in core search, an open approach could help Yahoo differentiate its product, win over developers, and open up new avenues of search that Google is currently ignoring. And being open means embracing Google as well.