Periodically, we sit down with developers in the community who are implementing YUI for projects outside of Yahoo. Yesterday I sat down with engineers from OurStory.com, including VP of Engineering and co-founder Chris Lunt, Chief Architect (and former Yahoo!) Tim Correia, and Senior Engineer Jerome Poichet.
OurStory.com is a company that’s gotten a lot of good press in the past year and enjoyed another recent boost with its participation in Demo ’07. In the video below you’ll get a good sense of what the OurStory product is about — if you imagine a web-based storyboard for aggregating multimedia clips and blog-style text entries about the events of your life, you’ll be on the right track.
I got together with the OurStory team to learn more about how they’ve embraced the interleaving and interconnectedness of today’s web by using APIs from Flickr, Yahoo! Image Search, and del.icio.us, while simultaneously harnessing the energy of the open-source community by building on top of resources like YUI (they’re using Event, Dom, Connection Manager [including file upload], Animation, Drag & Drop, Container, Calendar, AutoComplete, TabView, and some of Jack Slocum‘s utilities). If you want to get a sense of what a fully realized Web 2.0 product looks like — one that goes far beyond the ad hoc nature of most mashups — OurStory.com will be of interest to you. (The highlight for me is the use of the Yahoo! Term Extraction API to extract key terms from story entries and to then to suggest images from Flickr or Yahoo! Image Search based on the extracted terms; watch for the waffle demo at about the 7-minute mark….) And if you’re interested in how YUI components can work together to build a rich, coherent, attractive and performant interface, Tim’s exploration of OurStory’s YUI integration is a must-see.
At the end of the ~10-minute video, I asked Chris, Tim, and Jerome to talk about both the good and bad aspects of building on top of third-party APIs and to discuss some of the pain points they’ve experienced using YUI. I think you’ll find their answers illuminating, particularly Chris’s discussion of how the vastness of Yahoo! Image Search — what he calls its “access to esoterica” — can be a double-edged sword.