After much thought, my answer is Yes, you can have early access to the API and try out some stuff with your own applications! I'll call this a Community Technical Preview (CTP) and it will be available by Friday 19th December and will be on air until at least the end of January 2009.
The "much thought" was simply because I had to find my way through the set of things that could go wrong. Events that either give you a disappointing service or (frankly worse) upset our web offering for everyone else. All the problems I have foreseen have been accounted for so I'm in a "let's do this!" mood.
In a week or so I'll announce a web site where you can register to obtain a Developer ID - a string of random characters created when you register - which you must use with the 'Login' web method call. You will have to agree to some terms and conditions such as accessing the API for your own use only, and not selling any client software you create (mainly because the API will surely evolve and change service URI whilst it is in any pre-beta mode, breaking your app).
The CTP version of the Tesco.com API will:
- Allow logging in, searching for products, and adding to basket.
- Allows three unsuccessful login attempts in a 24 hour period.
- Limits the number of product searches per IP address to 100 in any 24 hour period.
- Limit the count of products returned in each search to 20.
- Provides both SOAP and REST services - you choose the appropriate service for the device you are developing for.
- Sit on a single server that I can actively monitor for instances of what I will only describe as 'naughtiness'. Such stuff as hammering the API continuously with sub-second calls, or attempting to hack the API (or server), is included in this subjective term. If things don't work out I can block an IP address or, worst case, shut down the server.
If you wish to take advantage and rustle up an application or two over the Holiday period, you are welcome.
If you wish to download some free software development tools, here are some links:
- Microsoft .Net (C#, Visual Basic, SQL) http://www.microsoft.com/express/
- Java/C/C++ development by Eclipse http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/
- Java development by NetBeans http://www.netbeans.org
Let me know if your favourite free develoment platform is not listed - I'll include it on the API support website when it launches in a week or so. Monitor this blog for the web address which I'll publish here as soon as it's ready.