Innovation

Developers First: 5 Takeaways from eBay Connect

By: Chenda Ngak, eBay News Team

eBay’s annual developers conference offered several releases, including Image Search and Machine Translation APIs to 100 percent support for OpenAPI.

eBay welcomed developers from around the world to its headquarters in San Jose, Calif. last Tuesday. Gail Frederick, VP, Developer Ecosystem at eBay, welcomed the developers to the three-day event by reiterating that eBay is committed to the developers community, and will continue to make investments.

“I’m so proud that we’re having this developers conference,“ Gail said. “We’ve made good on those commitments and we’ll continue to make good.”

The event reaffirmed eBay’s commitment to our developers as a critical part of our strategy to transform commerce. Developers got the first look at our new APIs and heard about some of eBay’s top initiatives, including: the product-based shopping experience (PBSE), selling, new payments experience, distributed commerce, OpenAPI and artificial intelligence (AI).

President and CEO Devin Wenig joined Gail in a candid fireside chat with developers, answering questions about eBay’s AI technology and platform, cross-border trade and the future of accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment. (FYI, the answer is: Not right now.) Scott Cutler, SVP of Americas, gave developers an update on the state of the business, and expanded on recent announcements like the adoption of Apple Pay and partnership with Square Capital.

API Announcements

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eBay released its Image Search API, enabling developers to leverage computer vision-based features including Image Search, drag-and-drop visual shopping, and Find It On eBay into their own platforms. eBay Connect attendees were given a demo of how the API can be incorporated by Wikibuy head of partnerships Kyle Schumacher. The technology is already live for Wikibuy users, who can take a photo of an image to search for products in eBay’s catalog.

New APIs include Machine Translation, Feed Platform for Buys and Developer Analytics. eBay has also expanded and updated APIs for advertising, buying, trading, inventory and fulfilling.

Gail gave a demo of how eBay marketplace and classifieds use the Buy API to create a seamless experience for shoppers. On Gumtree.com, a search for toaster served up eBay listings mixed with Gumtree results. A click into the listing opens the eBay listing, enabling buyers to make a purchase effortlessly.

Product-Based Shopping Experience

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Shervin Moghaddam, VP of Shopping Experience Product, and Syed Muneeb-ul-Haq, Director of Product Management, Structured Data, discussed with developers the importance of eBay’s PBSE initiative. And demonstrated how the experience has changed from a listings experience to a product-based shopping experience.

The move to PBSE will help drive more buyers to eBay by switching from ephemeral listing pages to permanent product pages. Sellers will have an easier time listing products, and can leverage tools made possible by PBSE like bar code scanning. PBSE will also improve search results on eBay.com, making it easier for shoppers to find exactly what they want.

Through the use of PBSE APIs, third-party developers will be able to add or update products in eBay’s catalog, and perform bulk requests using spreadsheets or CSV files. Extensive documentation on PBSE can be found at developer.ebay.com/pbse.

Future of Artificial Intelligence

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Chief scientist Jan Pederson who heads eBay’s AI initiative spoke to developers about how eBay is leveraging AI to make shopping easier and more personal. And added that eBay has been working on AI and machine translation for a long time, but there’s been a lot of acceleration recently and developers are starting to see the results.

Jan added that AI and machine translation will transform the marketplace, with the help of eBay’s data, algorithms and computing.

“It’s going to make interaction more natural, and it’s going to make complex things more simple,” Jan said. eBay has some of the world’s largest data sets, especially when it comes to images.

“Think about it as unlocking value in the data we have,” he added. “It’s extremely exciting. I welcome you to come on the journey with us as we think of AI in commerce.”  

Adoption of OpenAPI

Gail announced that eBay now has 100 percent support for OpenAPI specifications across eBay’s RESTful APIs. With OpenAPI, developers can download an eBay OpenAPI contract, generate code and successfully call an eBay API within minutes.

“That’s 19 RESTful APIs, more than 100 end points, all of which are described by OpenAPI specification documents,” Gail said. The move is a massive productivity win for developers, she added.

To demonstrate the potential time savings, senior architect Tanya Vlahovic gave developers a live demo writing code and generating JavaScript to call an API in about 70 seconds.

Star Developer Award Winners

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Chief architect Sanjeev Katariya joined Gail on stage to give out the annual Star Developer Award to developers who have made a difference using eBay’s APIs. The Early Adopter Award went to plentymarkets and Slickdeals, which were first to adopt PBSE. And the Rapid Growth award went to CommerceHub.  

Gail made a surprise announcement of an additional Star Developer Award called the Nova Award, which recognizes new developers. Three awards will be given out, which will include a $10,000 prize and 10 hours of mentoring from eBay’s team. Nominations will be open in September on the developers portal, and will be announced in February 2019.

For more information on eBay’s Developer Program, visit developer.ebay.com.