Thursday, April 11, 2002

The Google API

I was going to do what I normally do whenever a cool new API comes out; I was going to toss together a little Cocoa app that uses the API to display Google search results in a Cocoa desktop application. It just seemed like the right thing to do...

... until I thought it through.

On OS X, the reality is that Google is already available anywhere on my desktop. I simply select some text and use the 'Define in Google' service menu to call up the google results. Because I use LaunchBar, I can easily do GOO to bring up the Google home page in my favorite browser [OmniWeb]. Programatically, looking up something on Google is as easy as composing the URL and invoking a single method to cause the user's favorite browser to display the URL; no need for SOAP or XML composition/processing.

So, writing an app to do Google searches doesn't actually make Google any more conveniently accessible.

On the presentation front, the existing HTML interface for presenting search results is simple, straightforward, and helpful. It automatically suggests search refinements, provides me with alternative content such as maps or phone numbers-- when available-- and is presented in a very easy to parse format. I would be hard pressed to put together a GUI presentation that would truly add any value to the web based UI.

So, I punted as I can't think of any advantages I could glean from having an Application do what I can already do seamlessly across my desktop. OS X already offers spell checking throughout the system, so that is out, as well.

This is not to imply that the API is useless. Far from it. There are plenty of possible uses for the API, this simply isn't one of them. Unfortunately, I don't currently have an application for which the GoogleAPI solves a relevant problem.

Cool stuff, though.
6:44:17 PM  pontificate