I'd like a small discussion about opening up SO functions as web services (APIs), so users can implement their own GUI/frontend for their needs for example?
What do you think, what pros and cons can this kind of model have?
Meta Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for meta-discussion of the Stack Exchange family of Q&A websites. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
There has been talk about an API before, and I believe Jeff has said "It's definitely something we want to do" on the podcast - but with no timescale. I don't think it's a current priority, although a few APIs have been made available on a somewhat ad-hoc basis.
The obvious downside from the SO side of things is that custom clients would probably not include adverts, draining revenue. However, I don't see that as a major problem: most visits aren't made by the kind of regular user who would have a custom client anyway - they're "drive-by" visits via search engines, and these wouldn't be affected. Custom clients for power users could enable users to generate content more efficiently, and it's ultimately content that drives the search hits.
It will be a very strange decision, as far as other users may want to implement different UI with different scoring/badging system... I can't see any "pro" argument why owners of SO will want to do this.
I suppose that WebService API can be developed, but only to Get() answers/comments from site. However, RSS feeds are good replacements of that.
I put this answer to my question to detail my vision without obscuring the question above.
My original idea came from Twitter having API to do updates. I thought only a few, parameterable web services needs to be developed in order to work with SO:
Even if you're doing it for yourself only, you could customize your own client side UI as you want - sorting, further filtering, coloring etc.
For spinoff frontend sites, an ad-forwarding agreement would do the trick, and maybe a montly fee (which could be accumulated by other-ads on the spinoff site).