Yesterday, in a meeting to hash out some of the details of MSN Spaces API an interesting question came up. So far I've been focused on the technical details of the API (what methods should we have? what protocol should it use? etc) as well as the scheduling impact but completely overlooked a key aspect of building developer platform. I hadn't really started thinking about how we planned to support developers using our API. Will we have a website? A mailing list? Or a newsgroup? How will people file bugs? Do we expect them to navigate to http://spaces.msn.com and use the feedback form?

Besides supporting developers, we will need a site to spread awareness of the existence of the API. After noticing the difference in the media response to the ability to get search results as RSS feeds from MSN Search and the announcement of the Yahoo! Search Developer Network it is clear to me that simply having great functionality and blogging about it isn't enough. To me, getting MSN Search results as RSS feeds gives me at least two things over Yahoo's approach. The first is that developers don't have to register with MSN as they have to with Yahoo! since they need to get application IDs. The second is that since the search results are an RSS feed, they not only can be consumed programmatically but can be consumed by regular users with off the shelf RSS readers. However I saw more buzz about YSDN than about the MSN Search feeds from various corners. I suspect that the lack of "oomph" in the announcement is the cause of this occurence.

Anyway, getting back to how we should support developers who want to use the MSN Spaces APIs, I'd be very interested to hear from developers of blogging tools as to what they'd like to see us do here.

Update: Jeroen van den Bos reminds me that MSN Search RSS feeds are only licensed for personal use. I need to ping the MSN Search folks about that.

Update: Mike Torres points out that both Yahoo (see YSDN FAQ) and Google (see Google API FAQ) have similar restrictions in their terms of use. It would be good to see MSN leading the way here. We've already gone one step better by not requiring developers to register and get application IDs. We should be able to the loosen the terms of use as well.