The solution was essentially “make yer own damn widget”, of course, and so this weekend I signed up as an eBay developer and started parsing through the opaque and version-uncontrolled world of eBay’s programming API. The goal was simple; basically replicate the functions of the basic eBay listing widget in a responsive way that would work with the layout of TWDB Mobile – feed the widget a keyphrase relevant to the page the widget is on (say “Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter -ribbon”) and get back a nice list with thumbnails and current prices of the listings fitting that query. Easy peasy!
Having done that, I pondered what else I could do with the API. I’ve been working on a rebuild of the whole TWDB (dubbed “TWDB Delta”) using Bootstrap, a framework I recently used on the etconline.org update, and I wondered if I could format the eBay search results into a nice, attractive slideshow. I also got curious about how I might be able to parley the API functionality into a really useful tool for hunting typewriters (or whatever) on the various eBays around the world.
After a few hours, the result is this:
Not all that complex yet – it’s just a simple “title” search that builds a nifty slideshow of up to 50 results from any of the 21 regional eBays around the world. Listings are current, and prices are not marked with the currency because eBay’s API doesn’t return the currency symbol, but the price is in whatever currency is standard for that region’s eBay, whatever the heck they use for money there. The links are, like the ebay widgets on the rest of the TWDB, encoded with our affiliate ID, so if you click the result link over to the listing and buy something, the TWDB gets a slice of the fee charged by eBay to the seller, so a couple nickles in the kitty!
Simple as it is, it is a pretty neat way to search every regional eBay for a particular thing all in one place. As a Typewriter Hunting app, it could be made useful with more detailed searching options, and maybe a more informative display than a slideshow, plus maybe a simple search history. I have some more ideas, and I’ll be fiddling with it some more. Give it a try and let me know if it seems useful enough to flesh it out some more..
also, it’s embeddable! :D