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eBay sold on Web services

The online auctioneer invites a slew of affiliates to incorporate its propriety marketplace technology into their sites.

eBay has expanded its Web services program to bring its propriety technology to all its affiliates--not just the Web sites and programmers that were initially invited to join the effort.

The online auction giant said Wednesday at its ongoing developer conference in New Orleans that it's opening up a plan, known as the eBay application programming interface (API) and developers program, to a larger portion of its members. The eBay API plan lets companies gain use of its auction marketplace technology.

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The announcement indicates that the San Jose, Calif.-based company is ready to take Web services out of a controlled environment and begin allowing many more affiliates, such as individuals or companies doing volume business over its site, to begin creating links to its back-end operations. Web services technology allows developers to more easily link computers, software and networks through standard interfaces.

eBay is no newcomer to Web services. Thousands of developers have already created customized applications using the tools and have built direct links to the company's databases of products for sale on its sites. When an item is sold via an affiliate's link to eBay, the auction company pays the partner a commission based on the size of the sale.

Using the API, affiliates will be able to access the most current information on eBay's site, including real-time pricing, specific product details and bidding times for all listings, the company said.

"By allowing and encouraging our affiliates to use the eBay API, we're helping them grow their businesses more effectively," Vaughan Smith, eBay's senior director of Internet marketing, said in a statement.

The company said that affiliates will be required to pay a $250 fee to join the Web services initiative.

In related news, eBay announced that it is also augmenting the Web services program available through its PayPal online payment subsidiary. The company is adding a new software development kit (SDK) for developers working with Microsoft technologies. eBay said the package, dubbed PayPal SDK for Microsoft ASP.Net, will allow Microsoft developers to build more secure and cost-effective Web services applications to link into PayPal's payment systems.

The SDK includes applications to help developers integrate PayPal's tools, such as its Web-based payment and payment data transfer systems, into their own sites. The package also offers access to seven of PayPal's Web site controls including its Buy Now, Add to Cart, View Cart, Checkout, Upload Aggregate Cart, Upload Complete Cart and Subscription services.

eBay said that the SDK will be made available for no charge to members of its PayPal Developer Network starting Wednesday. The package is compatible with all languages and tools that run on Microsoft's .Net Web services framework.

In addition, the online auction giant unveiled eBay Solutions Directory, an online listing of software and services created by the company's developer partners to support trading activity on its sites.