I set aside a little time to do a little hacking with Amazon’s API. Now you can tag stuff on Huffduffer with machine tags like
book:title=the invention of air or
music:artist=my morning jacket. Other namespaces are
movie. Anything matching that pattern will trigger a search on Amazon and display a list of results.
I dislike the fact that there’s no option to receive JSON instead of XML. However, one of the things I like is the option to pass the URL of an XSL file to transform the XML (I wish more APIs offered that service). So even though JSON isn’t officially offered, it’s perfectly feasible to generate JSON from the combination of XML + XSL. That’s what I did for the Huffduffer hacking—I find it a lot easier to deal with JSON than XML in PHP5. If you fancy doing something similar, help yourself to my XSL file. It’s very basic but it could make a decent starting point.
But the thing I dislike the most about the Amazon API is the documentation. It’s not that there’s a lack of documentation. Far from it. It’s just not organised very well. I find it very hard to get the information I need, even when I know that the information is there somewhere. Flickr still leads the pack when it comes to API documentation. Amazon would do well to take a leaf out of Flickr’s documentation book (hope you’re listening, Jeff).