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Google's nerd cred not easy to come by: Yahoo kills Web coding project

The Yahoo User Interface software library was helpful but at odds with modern Web programming directions, Yahoo says.

Yahoo YUI logo

Yahoo on Friday formally killed its Yahoo User Interface library (YUI), a once-popular Web programming project that's faded from use, showing how hard it will be for CEO Marissa Mayer to Google-ize her company.

"We have made the difficult decision to immediately stop all new development on YUI," choosing instead to focus on more modern Web programming trends, Julien Lecomte, engineering director for Yahoo Presentation Technologies, disclosed on a company blog. "This means that, going forward, new YUI releases will likely be few and far between, and will only contain targeted fixes that are absolutely critical to Yahoo properties."

Yahoo remains a major force on the Web, and its sites operate at impressive scale. But Google is much more likely to spring to mind when people think of Web giants influencing the future direction of online programming.

Yahoo is trying to build its developer cred -- especially in the mobile domain -- by bringing programmers on board. Many have arrived through a string of acquisitions, including Astrid, Stamped, OnTheAir, Alike, GoPollGo, Wander, Summly, and Jybe. But more than two years into her CEO tenure, Mayer has yet to prove Yahoo can reclaim its lost glory.

While Yahoo is killing YUI, it's not killing its Web programming ambitions.

"Interested in working on cutting edge web technologies?" Lecomte said on Twitter to anyone listening. "Let's chat!"

Google is in part responsible for some of the new directions of Web programming, including an aggressive push to improve the Web as a foundation for dynamic apps, not just static documents, and to give programmers the ability to pick and choose among many different user-interface elements from a variety of developers.

This latter approach, called Web Components and closely aligned with Google's Polymer project, is orthogonal to the monolithic approach of YUI, which Yahoo began in 2005 and released publicly in 2006. Polymer is designed for any modern browser, but Google has a powerful ability to bring new technologies and new Web standards to market by virtue of its control over the Chrome browser.

YUI is a JavaScript library -- a prepackaged collection of useful features that programmers can include on their Web sites for things like graphics, drag-and-drop actions, or settings sliders. As the Web has evolved, though, "large JavaScript libraries such as YUI have been receiving less attention from the community," Lecomte said. "Many developers today look at large JavaScript libraries as walled gardens they don't want to be locked into."

A demonstration of the Yahoo User Interface programming library
A demonstration of the Yahoo User Interface programming library. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET