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Google Developing Master API — Web Intents 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-api-to-rule-them-all dept.
GeneralSecretary writes "Google is developing an API to allow web apps to easily share information with various services. Quoting: 'Android OS addresses this problem with Intents, a facility for late run-time binding between components in the same or different applications. In the Intents system, the client application requests a generic action, e.g. share, and specifies the data to pass to the selected service application. The user is given a list of applications which have registered that they can handle the requested intent. The user-selected application is created in a new context and passed the data sent from the client, the format of which is predefined for each specific intent type. We are hard at work designing an analogous system for the web: Web Intents. This web platform API will provide the same benefits of Android Intents, but better suited for web application. ... As with Android, Web Intents documents an initial set of intent actions (edit, view, share, etc.) that likely cover the majority of use cases on the web today; however, as the web grows and sites provide more functionality, new intent actions will be added by services that document these intents, some more popular than others. To foster development and use of intents, we plan to create a site to browse existing intents and add new intents.'"
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Google Developing Master API — Web Intents

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  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday August 05, 2011 @10:27AM (#36996552) Journal

    Google seems to be proposing a bit of javascript that anyone can add to their website,
    which will pull my data from any other enabled website I've stored information on?

    Why does this just seem like another entry point for abuse?

    • by McLoud (92118)

      Google seems to be proposing a bit of javascript that anyone can add to their website,
      which will pull my data from any other enabled website I've stored information on?

      Why does this just seem like another entry point for abuse?

      Anything can be abused, give enough time and effort. It's just a matter of figuring if it is still worth giving how much useful it is still is. By the looks of the example it reminds me a lot of a ESB where You have services that do stuff registered in a common place, Google way seems like the REST counterpart of it.

    • by Pollardito (781263) on Friday August 05, 2011 @12:08PM (#36997620)
      AFAIK Android intents are push rather than pull. And that's a pretty big difference, since you have to either select the app/site you're pushing to at the time of the push or preset it beforehand (meaning you have control of who's receiving the data). This looks like it has a return path though, so it does seem like it might be risky.
    • Google seems to be proposing a bit of javascript that anyone can add to their website,
      which will pull my data from any other enabled website I've stored information on?

      No, Google is proposing a set of web technologies (markup + JavaScript API) that will allow websites to advertise that they support certain actions, allow you to choose to install those websites as options to handle those actions, and then allow other websites to specify that they want one of those actions performed, at which point you will b

      • by RJFerret (1279530)

        Sounds like ARexx brought to the Web (an expanded Rexx implementation on the Amiga from the '80s) but standardized.

        The interaction between different applications was wonderful (Want to edit an image embedded in a document in your word processor? Update numbers in a spreadsheet or calculator? Send those updated numbers to a 3D model?) but required too much technical knowledge on the part of the user, due to lack of standard calls, or limited the end user functionality to developers who had worked together,

        • Sounds like ARexx brought to the Web (an expanded Rexx implementation on the Amiga from the '80s) but standardized.

          Its really not all that similar: ARexx was essentially a scripting language integrated into the Amiga platform and to which many Amiga apps provided an interface allowing automation.

          Web Intents isn't a new language that sits external to web apps and allows you to automate them.

          Discovery is done through one markup tag which advertises that service can handle a particular "intent" (an action), an

      • No, Google is proposing a set of web technologies (markup + JavaScript API) that will allow websites to advertise that they support certain actions, allow you to choose to install those websites as options to handle those actions, and then allow other websites to specify that they want one of those actions performed, at which point you will be presented by your browser with an opportunity to choose which of the sites you've installed as a handler for the action your browser should invoke to handle the actio

        • So ActiveX then?

          No, it has very little in common with ActiveX; the closest analogy that's been posted on the thread so far is UDDI, but its not very much like that, either.

  • The one API (Score:4, Funny)

    by Qatz (1209584) on Friday August 05, 2011 @10:32AM (#36996618)
    One API to rule them all, One API to find them, One API to bring them all, And in the darkness bind them.
  • I might be missing something, but how is it significantly different from the work on languages such as WSDL [wikipedia.org] used to describe Web Services? Is this just a JavaScript/REST version of the same?

    Thanks,
    -A

    • by curunir (98273) *

      From the sound of it, it decouples the service call from the service end point and allows the user to select which end point they'd like to use. Rather than making a call to a specific service provider, the page simply registers that it'd like some intent to be completed and then dispatches it. The user then gets to pick from the list of sites/apps that have registered their ability to handle that type of intent.

      • If done right, it would indeed be a very useful thing. However I'm not sure if Google really wants an interface which allows you to select whether you want the service "show the map of New York" requested from the web site to be served by Google Maps or Open Streetview ...

        In any case, the user should be given the option to use a local program instead of a web app. For example, for "edit the image" I might want to use a locally installed Photoshop or Gimp instead of some web app which almost certainly is les

        • If done right, it would indeed be a very useful thing. However I'm not sure if Google really wants an interface which allows you to select whether you want the service "show the map of New York" requested from the web site to be served by Google Maps or Open Streetview ...

          Its strange then that they have proposed pretty much exactly that, and delivered the code to implement it in existing browsers.

          In any case, the user should be given the option to use a local program instead of a web app.

          You can't really do

          • by Issarlk (1429361)
            > Its strange then that they have proposed pretty much exactly that, and delivered the code to implement it in existing browsers.

            Impossible! Everybody knows Google is eeeeeeeeeeeeeeevul.
      • by kbg (241421)
        So this is basically the same as UDDI [wikipedia.org] for WSDL?
        • So this is basically the same as UDDI [wikipedia.org] for WSDL?

          Its similar to UDDI or WS-Discovery in that it provides a service discovery mechanism.

          Its dissimilar to them in that it also includes a JavaScript API for calling a service.

          Its even more dissimilar in its lack of complexity.

          Compare:
          Web Intents [webintents.org]
          UDDI [uddi.org]
          WS-Discovery [oasis-open.org]

      • Thank you. Now I get it. Hopefully someone with mod points can use them on your post. +5 Informative!

    • by bberens (965711)
      One example I would use is mapping/directions. Let's say Bing Maps, Google Maps, and Mapquest have asked to be registered as mapping suppliers and you've allowed all three. Now on my website rather than linking to a particular mapping provider I call an api that tells your browser to provide a map to my local store using your preferred mapping provider. So you'll be prompted whether you'd like the map provided by Bing, Google, or Mapquest. Or if you have it configured it'll just automagically go to your
    • I might be missing something, but how is it significantly different from the work on languages such as WSDL [wikipedia.org] used to describe Web Services?

      It specifies a JavaScript API and a basic end-user interaction model, which isn't part of the WS-* family of standards, and its about a billionth the weight of a web services standard because the actual markup doesn't encode very much at all.

      I mean, look at http://webintents.org/ [webintents.org]

      A complete definition of a service (a handler for an intent) is a single tag w

  • Maybe I don't have all of my brain cells firing this morning -- or maybe it's because I'm not a software developer -- but I don't have a clue what this API will actually allow people to do in real life if developers use it. Can someone explain in it in simple terms? Thanks.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If it works anything like Android, you would click a link to begin editing a photo inside the web browser, and a popup would appear allowing you to select from a list of popular photo-editing web services.
    • by robmv (855035)

      Something like this, your web based applications will in some way register in your browser an API, another web application can call an that API, allowing a local web application be able to pass and receive data from another local web applications, from local I mean web applications that are running on your browser, without the server from application A know about server of application B and the data is trasferred to both applications locally. This solve the problem two problems, currently web applications m

      • by sorak (246725)

        Thank you, both for knowing what the hell TFA is talking about, and breaking it down in a way that the rest of us can understand. Why don't the people who make APIs hire people like you, to sell dimwits like me, on why libraries like this are useful?

    • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Friday August 05, 2011 @11:22AM (#36997120) Homepage

      Intents is one of the best and most powerful parts of the Android platform, and one that is often overlooked when comparing to iOS.

      In pretty much any Android application under the sun, you can hit "Share" from a menu or button somewhere. When you do that, whatever data you have in that app posts a message to android saying "Hey, I want to share this (image/jpg or text/xml or application/octet-stream)... and any other application on the system that is registered to handle that intent's mime type will show up as something to share to.

      This is what lets you share videos from anywhere on the phone not only to YouTube, but also to Picassa, DropBox, SMB, Email, or any other app that says they can handle videos or binary files.

      It's a really powerful and flexable application cross-commnication system, that makes all kinds of otherwise disconnected third-party applications work together seemlessly for the user. For example, I can "Share" my PhotoStich images with my Dropbox, directly inside the application.... and none of the PhotoStitch or Dropbox developers had to talk to each other to make that happen.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Have you actually programmed with intents? They are pure crap. A nice idea with a piss poor implementation. Mainly, you have no guarantee how the intent performs, or if intents actually do what they say they do. On my HTC Legend I rarely find an intent mime type which is NOT answered by the HTC mail app. What the fuck?

        Also, please explain why if intents are so nice and great why all applications which care about quality implement their own twitter/facebook integration through static libraries rather than in

        • by svick (1158077)
          I have never heard about Intents until now and I too think it's a nice idea. You may be right that they are crap, but I don't agree with your reasoning. When you give control to another application, you can never know what is it going to do. How would you guarantee that any implementation of the "share" intent actually does that? Especially considering what "share" means cannot be encoded into some set of rules, that can be understood by a computer, without being way too restrictive.
        • On my HTC Legend I rarely find an intent mime type which is NOT answered by the HTC mail app.

          At least the proposed Web Intents use both content types and actions (edit, share, view, etc.); seems to me mail apps would be fairly unrestricted in the content-types they could handle, but very restricted in the actions that they can handle for most content types.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        UDDI - have a central service (your android) and a request for a resource (give me a map [here's a url for a map]), give me a function (a destination, an app) and invoke it.

    • by bberens (965711)
      You know how when you click a mailto: link it brings up your system's default e-mail client? Well, with this API you could register several e-mail clients, including web based ones, and choose which one you wanted to use on a per-click basis.
  • The intents model of Android is pretty cool and solves a lot of problems for Android, but I'm not sure how often it would apply on the web. It would be very useful for posting to Twitter, Facebook, etc from any site that uses intents I suppose. For me the lack of intents is one of the big problems with iOS. In early versions they built in FaceBook support. In v5 they built in Twitter support. Will they need to release a new version for Google+ support? Seems like a pretty serious design flaw (intentional or
    • by bberens (965711)
      Sometimes I want my fat email client to get the duty of sending an e-mail when I click a mailto link. Other times I want to use gmail, other times hotmail. If I could register those different providers for that type of click then it'd make my life a little easier. When I go to [insert store here]'s website to find a local store it could show the directions using my pre-configured mapping solutions provider. If you prefer Bing over Google Maps you would get that automatically, or vice-versa. I don't env
    • Well intents on the web will require some work and thought outside Android's intents for sure. For one thing, intents on Android allow you to select one intended target but on the web you could easily intend to sent it to two targets (faceboox and twitter) for example and that social intent is probably the best use of the intents system they are developing.

      Then you have malicious use which on the web could be much easier achieved though presumably if Google was running the show, such websites would be remo

  • And one Master API to bind them all. Ok so it's not really funny but I'm in a goofy mood today.
  • That way the client can open up the app that created it or something else that can
  • great.... this has potential of bloat written all over.

  • this hasn't been patented already.
    • by Co0Ps (1539395)
      Why? This is real innovation. Real innovation is not connected to the "patent system" in any way even if lawyers, patent troll companies and others that profit from patents like to paint a picture of a world that works like that.
      • by wstrucke (876891)
        Because the trend these days is to patent any idea, especially if it's somewhat vague, like "An API for everything". I'm not implying it isn't novel, just that it seems like a target for abuse.
  • A "Master API"? What device does that interface to, a universal controller?

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