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I would like to see the open source Stack Exchange clones (OSQA/Shapado) to implement the same API, and this would help considerably.

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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

There wouldn't be a lot of code re-use between the SE API (.NET), OSQA (Python) and Shapado (Rails). If others want to, they can implement a compatible API without any of the server-side code. In fact, that's one of the biggest selling points of this type of API, it uses standards like HTTP and JSON that you can produce with any web framework. With a properly documented API anyone else out there can make a compatible version if it's in their interests to do so.

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Good point .. but now add an official 'test suite' to validate/endorse a 3rd party implementation .. –  lexu May 21 '10 at 6:33
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The others had no trouble ripping off the UX, it shouldn't be too difficult for them to follow suit on the API. –  Runscope API Tools May 21 '10 at 6:33
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'ripping' of is so negativ... (cloning an idea is a compliment to the original good idea) The value of all the stack-apps is not so much the code, it's the community. –  lexu May 21 '10 at 6:36
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'ripping off' is the right word. –  Franci Penov May 21 '10 at 6:39
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Rip off, borrow or clone - the fact remains that anyone interested in presenting a compatible API could do so without a lot of effort. We've already defined the methods, rooted out methods that did not work well (or were lacking) and put it to the test. Monkey see? Monkey can copy. –  Tim Post May 21 '10 at 9:20
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The SO engine isn't getting open sourced in the foreseeable future. The API is part of the engine, so it isn't either.

That being said, we do make all of the data "open-source" (cc-wiki, but close enough), there's MarkDownSharp, and some more stuff coming down the pipeline.

API specifically, all the external bits of our test suite are part of The World's Worst StackOverflow Clone.

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Just like they cloned the format and concept, they can clone the API. It's self-documenting and available for testing.

There would be no gain in open-sourcing the server-sided layer of it, and documenting a 'protocol' would be too constraining and involve too much effort.

I say it's fine just the way it is.

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I can't help but wonder how this is going to help Jeff and Co feed their kids?

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well, popularity does convey some advantages; to be seen as "the standard" and "worth copying" is beneficial. Also, since we can't open source the engine (though we already do open source some other related stuff, with more to come) others may want options. –  Jeff Atwood May 21 '10 at 7:39
    
I just wanted to give the OP a slightly different perspective. When you ask somebody to give their hard work for free to benefit others, you also need to consider what the impact on them is. –  Franci Penov May 22 '10 at 2:29
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