Yahoo! flags Hacker, what’s in a name hey? Yahoo! and the web development community at large understands a hacker to be someone that has an expressed interest in solving problems through innovative use of tools at their disposal.

On 12th September Yahoo! opened their Sunnyvale, California offices to a group of around 250 developers, or hackers, if you will in the name of Hackday. This year we had a big focus on Yahoo!s current direction, open, summarised by the preferred term ‘Yahoo! Open Strategy‘ (YOS). I was lucky enough to be invited this year to help out with the event organisation and to do some hacking myself on the YOS front.

YOS claims to be what will take Yahoo! forward and lead them to be a stronger ‘starting point’ for many users, a good call but success will be a test of offerings and time to market.

YOS consists of a number of components, architected to be loosely coupled meaning that we (as developers) should be able to jump in and out of services without having to learn an entire new platform. Some of the exciting developments from YOS will include;

  • YQL – a web service with an SQL-like syntax with the possibility to post process query results with a Unix esq pipe structure, designed to easily expose various data sources.
  • YML – a set of XML helper tags that when embedded in the HTML of applications will be replaced with common interface elements and populated data. An example of this would include a direct message form for instance.
  • Application Platform – allowing creation of a self hosted application. Additionally, you will be able to serve a cached static ‘mini’ version of the created application that would be found in such areas as a sidebar on a Yahoo! media property such as News.
  • OpenID – authentication system
  • Open Social capabilities, yay for open standards!
  • New profile pages, new look and feel, at last, the other ones have been a royal mess.

Open Social provides me with a huge sense of excitement, this is where we start drilling down further into the iceberg of the Internet, discovering the stupendous amounts of possibilities that the intangible web fruits for us.

Apologies for my eternal optimism and enthusiasm creeping into this piece, but really its there, this hackday, hack potential was proven time and again. A great example of the advances we witnessed from the submissions was an application built into Yahoo! Mail that would scan your emails and attempt to automatically extract details of an upcoming trips, leading on to generate a personalised itinerary using the service Tripit, how cool would that be, as someone with poor organisational skills, such as myself at times, this would be invaluable.

All in all, Hackday was awesome, it was good to see developers were keen to use tools built by the company i work for and thus take for granted. Bad stuff, yea well that would be with my hack, i didn’t manage to complete anything, instead i just played around with all the tools creating ‘hello world’ apps.