Amazon products API - Looking for basic overview and information

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After using the ebay API recently, I was expecting it to be as simple to request info from Amazon, but it seems not...

There does not seem to be a good webpage which explains the basics. For starters, what is the service called? The old name has been dropped I think, and the acronym AWS used everywhere (but isn't that an umbrella term which includes their cloud computing and 20 other services too?).

There is a lack of clear information about the new 'signature' process. Gathering together snippets of detail from various pages I've stumbled upon, it seems that prior to August 2009 you just needed a developer account with Amazon to make requests and get XML back. Now you have to use some fancy encryption process to create an extra number in your querystring. Does this mean Amazon data is completely out of reach for the programmer who just wants a quick and simple solution?

There seems to be a tiny bit of information on RSS feeds, and you can get a feed of items that have been 'tagged' easily, but I can't tell if there is a way to search for titles using RSS too. Some websites seem to suggest this, but I think they are out of date now?

If anyone can give a short summary to the current state of play I'd be very grateful. All I want to do is go from a book title in my database, and use Classic ASP to get a set of products that match from Amazon, listing cover images and prices.

Amazon 'widgets' can display keyword search results on my pages, but I have less control over these, and they are shown to the user only - my code can't look inside them.
Oct 8, 2018 in AWS by eatcodesleeprepeat
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Your post contains several questions, so I'll try to answer them one at a time:

  1. The API you're interested in is the Product Advertising API (PA). It allows you programmatic access to search and retrieve product information from Amazon's catalog. If you're having trouble finding information on the API, that's because the web service has undergone two name changes in recent history: it was also known as ECS and AAWS.
  2. The signature process you're referring to is the same HMAC signature that all of the other AWS services use for authentication. All that's required to sign your requests to the Product Advertising API is a function to compute a SHA-1 hash and and AWS developer key. For more information, see the section of the developer documentation on signing requests.
  3. As far as I know, there is no support for retrieving RSS feeds of products or tags through PA. If anyone has information suggesting otherwise, please correct me.
  4. Either the REST or SOAP APIs should make your use case very straight forward. Amazon provides a fairly basic "getting started" guide available here. As well, you can view the complete API developer documentation here.

Although the documentation is a little hard to find (likely due to all the name changes), the PA API is very well documented and rather elegant. With a modicum of elbow grease and some previous experience in calling out to web services, you shouldn't have any trouble getting the information you need from the API.

answered Oct 8, 2018 by Priyaj
• 56,120 points

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