In the spring of 2002, I logged in to my Amazon Associates account one day and saw a little box on the landing page with the magic words: “Amazon Now Has XML!” Amazon had exposed many aspects of its product catalog in XML form. Coupled with the Amazon Associates program, enterprising developers could download the data, use it to create a marketing site, and then earn commissions by sending traffic to the main site.

I thought this was fairly interesting and dived right in. I downloaded the documentation, wrote some code, and was impressed. I saw plenty of promise, but also plenty of room for improvement, so I wrote it all up and sent it to a feedback email address that they’d provided for this purpose.

One situation led to another ...

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