Google AJAX Feed API simplifies Web 2.0 mashups

Today Google is introducing a new library for JavaScript developers that lets them access, manipulate, and combine RSS and Atom data feeds without having to write server-side code.
Written by Ed Burnette, Contributor

Google has announced a new library today to help AJAX developers incorporate RSS and Atom feeds into their web sites. The Google AJAX Feed API will provide easy access to public data feeds through JavaScript.

Until now, including data feeds in web applications has been a painful process involving server-side proxies and a fair knowledge of XML data formats. The new API takes care of proxying automatically and offers a straightforward interface for developers to access syndicated data. No server-side code is needed at all. According to Google:

The Google AJAX Feed API brings mashup creation within reach of everyone from bloggers to hobbyists to professional coders. It's ideal for JavaScript programmers who don't want to maintain server-side code or learn new technologies just to work with data feeds.

In contrast to the drag-n-drop Yahoo Pipes and the rumored Microsoft Springfield tool, the Google AJAX Feed API is oriented towards developers and not casual users. As such, it's a little harder to use but far more flexible.

Like other Google APIs, the new library will be accessible through ordinary JavaScript or through Java code using the open source Google Web Toolkit, a technology that compiles standard Java into browser-specific JavaScript that runs on the client. GWT allows developers to wrap any JavaScript libraries as Java classes using the JavaScript Native Interface, or JSNI. GWT is supported by all major free and commercial Java IDEs.

Bret Taylor, group product manager for Google developer products, will feature the Google AJAX Feed API today in a talk at O'Reilly Web 2.0 Expo titled, "Who Needs Server-Side Code? AJAX APIs and Product Integration 2.0."

Update: Now that the documentation is available I've noticed several interesting things. For example I think the work being done for cross-browser XML access, the repurposing of the AJAX Search blog and group for all AJAX APIs, the details about FeedFetcher and the relationship to Google Reader, and the two-step process to load the Feeds library (needed because "Google is moving to a new model of loading AJAX APIs to make it easier to include multiple Google APIs on your pages") may be significant to developers. 

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