Yahoo broke their GeoCode API

It appears to be working again today (Saturday, 3 days after the first reports). I wasn’t able to make the switch to Google’s yet, so I’ll still use Yahoo’s for now. But, there are some changes I need to make to better prepare if something like this happens again.

Yahoo rolled out some updates to their Maps API on Tuesday night, but unfortunately they broke their Geocode API in the process. I know, I know, don’t rely on free APIs, nothing like a day without new users to drive that point home. In spite of knowing I shouldn’t rely on this API, I’m troubled by the way this was broken. I would expect better from Yahoo, who put a lot of resources into their developer network.

First, they didn’t version this release, it’s still “V1”. If they had bumped the version and kept the old one around, the problem could have been avoided. Secondly, it’s essentially a schema problem which are much more difficult to code around than the service being down or throwing errors. While the response still technically passes schema validation, it’s easy to see that the data is not right. Third, it is still not fixed after they’ve known about it for over a day.

Here’s the bug. Run a zip code lookup:

this is the response:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
   <Result precision="zip">
      <City>Portland, OR  97201</City>
      <State>United States</State>
<!-- compressed Thu May 17 09:55:39 PDT 2007 -->

The city, state and zip are combined into the city field while the country is put into the state field. Whoops. So the city field has to be further parsed in order to put the data in the right place. I use this service to take care of that for me, and don’t have time at the moment to do it. So, I bumped the limit on my state field in the database in order to work around this, but my geo data will be all messed up until this is fixed and then I’ll have to go back through and clean it up.

I’d argue that zip code lookups are fairly common and there should be a test case for this. Time to look at Google’s geocoder I suppose.

SmartFilter doesn’t like Yahoo related JavaScript developers

Interesting to see that at one point, the SmartFilter URL filtering software blocked 3 key Yahoo and JavaScript related blogs (with reason in parens):

Simon Willison (malicious content)
YUI blog (spam urls)
Jack Slocum (spam urls)

I asked for Willison’s and Slocum’s to be whitelisted and the YUI blog started working this week without a request, so maybe Secure Computing updated the blacklist. Is this some conspiracy to suppress the adoption of the Yahoo User Interface Library? (only kidding)

Email beta smackdown begins

As of today, I am now using the big three email betas: Gmail, Windows Live Mail Beta, and Yahoo! Mail Beta. I have entirely too many email accounts, but it’s interesting using the different clients. I’ve been using Gmail heavily for a couple months, I just switched to the Yahoo! mail beta last week, and to the Winodws Live Mail Beta today. I’ll spend some time analyzing the three over the next few weeks and see which one comes out on top. First impressions are that the Gmail is great, Yahoo! rocks, and Windows Live Mail needs some work.

I hate sounding so negative all the time about Microsoft stuff, as I’m currently working with the .Net technology stack. So, I’m going to try to find some positive Microsoft stuff to talk about as well. I don’t have anything against Microsoft really, but the other guys are just doing a better job right now. I can tell you that Windows Live Mail is still better than Verizon’s webmail product. See, positive already.