When the LazyWeb gets too lazy

I’m running a couple of services that make automatic use of Amazon wishlists, and today I noticed that the current version of the API is going away:

503 – Service Unavailable

ECS3 is currently unavailable due to a planned outage in preparation for the complete shutdown of ECS3 on March 31, 2008.

After March 31, 2008, we will no longer accept Amazon ECS 3.0 requests. Please upgrade to the Amazon Associates Web Service (previously called Amazon E-Commerce Web Service 4.0) by then to ensure that you or your customers are not affected by the upcoming deprecation.

Amazon ECS 3.0 deprecation was announced a year ago in February 2007. You can read the original post at http://developer.amazonwebservices.com/connect/ann.jspa?annID=164.

In preparation of the March 31st deprecation, the Amazon ECS 3.0 web service will experience several outages. The complete outage schedule can be viewed at http://developer.amazonwebservices.com/connect/ann.jspa?annID=276.

Please refer to the migration guide for assistance in mapping Amazon ECS 3.0 calls to their Amazon Associates Web Service 4.0 equivalents. You can find the migration guide at http://developer.amazonwebservices.com/connect/entry.jspa?categoryID=12&externalID=627. Please use the Amazon Associates Web Service forum to ask technical questions and share answers with your fellow developers.

We thank you for being part of Amazon’s Developer community and look forward to your continued support.

Like Rich Burridge, I’ll be needing a replacement for PyAmazon, the Python module Mark Pilgrim wrote long ago to simplify use of the original Amazon API.

In our modern world of aggregation, search, and syndication, it’s easy to wait and see what will happen. I went to bloglines and searched for blog items that — like Rich’s and now mine — point to Amazon’s page about migrating to the new API. And then I subscribed to that search.

In a way, this is too easy. I can imagine a bunch of people camped on that query, watching the clock and waiting for someone else to step up to the plate before March 31. The first time around, when Amazon web services were new and shiny, it was cool to be that person. Now, not so much.

Update: A couple of folks have pointed to PyAWS. As mentioned in Rich Burridge’s blog entry, it doesn’t seem to offer, e.g., a single call to retrieve all items from a wishlist. However, when I reviewed my use of the earlier PyAmazon, in terms of raw interaction with the RESTful API and its XML output, I remembered how simple that interaction was. It’s just as simple in the new Amazon API, just slightly different. Encapsulating what I needed to do required only a few lines of code.

Generalizing that encapsulation is much harder. And when you have to repeat that hard work for many different languages, and for many different APIs, the inevitable result is that these per-language API wrappers tend to lag.

That’s one reason I’m looking forward to services built on Astoria ADO.NET Data Services, or an equivalent normalization layer. I think it can substantially narrow the gap between RESTful APIs and the convenience wrappers we enjoy in various programming languages.

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3 thoughts on “When the LazyWeb gets too lazy

  1. I came here searching for a way to retrieve my Amazon wishlist using PyAWS… You’re the top query (out of a grand total of 5!) for “pyaws wishlist amazon”.

    However, reading the blog article above, I had flashbacks of Fermat’s Last Theorem:

    “After poring over this mysterious PyAWS, I found a wonderfully simple way of retrieving a wishlist like with PyAmazon. However the margin of this blog post is too narrow to contain the few lines of Python code required.”


    Could you please post the said few lines of codes to retrieve a wishlist with PyAWS? Would be much appreciated. I’d rather not have to pore over the whole Amazon API documentation to learn how to retrieve a simple wishlist or two with PyAWS.

  2. I’m sure when the old was service was shutdown, Amazon lost a lot of revenue from so many scripts and applications not working. Hopefully with the current version, they’ll decide that it’s more cost effective to leave a few servers running it, versus shutting it down.

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