Yahoo pulls SearchMonkey developer tool

The platform for customising search results will no longer be supported as Yahoo moves closer to integrating its search technology with Microsoft's Bing

Yahoo is pulling the plug on its SearchMonkey development tools as it continues shifting its search results and backend to Microsoft's Bing platform.

On Monday, the company said that it will close the two-year-old SearchMonkey development project's developer tool, gallery and app preferences on 1 October.

"Yahoo Search is continuing to shift from a model where developers build lightweight apps to install on Yahoo to one where publishers enhance their own site markup to produce similar results," wrote Neal Sample, vice president of social, open and publishing platforms at Yahoo, in a blog post.

The SearchMonkey platform allows developers and website owners to use their own structured datasets to customise Yahoo's search results for their businesses. For example, a restaurant search result consisting of a link and the website name listing could be changed to show the same information, with the addition of an address, phone number, map and reviews.

Sample noted that Yahoo's search results pages will still show results templates from websites' page markup and structured data feeds alongside the listings served by Microsoft. However, in another company blog, Yahoo search product manager Natasha Fattedad said that third-party apps and data services will no longer appear in Yahoo search results from 1 October.

In addition to closing SearchMonkey, Yahoo said that it is looking at introducing charges to use its Boss (Build your Own Search Service) programme, which allows developers to create their own search tool, powered by Yahoo's search engine.

The future of SearchMonkey has been uncertain since Yahoo and Microsoft announced at the end of July 2009 that they will merge their search technology and advertising operations. Under that deal, Microsoft's Bing engine will power Yahoo's search, and Yahoo will handle worldwide search advertising for both companies.

On Monday, Yahoo announced it will start to move the back-end technology for Yahoo search to the Bing platform "later this week". It has already begun testing out a portal within Yahoo Search Marketing that lets customers create an account on Microsoft Advertising AdCenter, and said the aim was to complete the ad platform transition by Christmas 2010, though it warned this date could slip. "If we conclude that it would improve the overall experience, we may defer the transition to 2011," Yahoo said.

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