Yahoo Boss – Google App Engine Integrated

Updated: I see blogs doing evaluations of the Q&A engine. I have to admit, that wasn’t my focus here. The service is merely 50 lines of code … just to demonstrate the integration of BMF and GAE.

Updated: Direct link to the example Question-Answering Service

Today I finally plugged-in the Yahoo Boss Mashup Framework into the Google App Engine environment. Google App Engine (GAE) provides a pretty sweet yet simple platform for executing Python applications on Google’s infrastructure. The Boss Mashup Framework (BMF) provides Python API’s for accessing Yahoo’s Search API’s as well remixing data a la SQL constructs. Running BMF on top of GAE is a seemingly natural progression, and quite arguably the easiest way to deploy Boss – so I spent today porting BMF to the GAE platform.

Here’s the full BMF-GAE integrated project source download.

There’s a README file included. Just unzip, put your appid’s in the config files, and you’re done. No setup or dependencies (easier than installing BMF standalone!). It’s a complete GAE project directory which includes a directory called yos which holds all the ported BMF code. Also made a number of improvements to the BMF code (SQL ‘where’ support, stopwords, yql.db refactoring, util & templates in yos namespace, refactored & optimized, etc.).

The next natural thing to do is to develop a test application on top of this united framework. In the original BMF package, there’s an examples directory. In particular, was able to answer some ‘when’ style questions. I simply wrapped that code as a function and referenced it as a GAE handler in

Here’s the ‘when’ q&a source code as a webpage (less than 25 lines).

The algorithm is quite easy – use the question as the search query and fetch 50 results via the Boss API. Count the dates that occur in the results’ abstracts, and simply return the most popular one.

For fun, following a similar pattern to the ‘when’ code, I developed another handler to answer ‘who’ or ‘what’ or ‘where’ style questions (finding the most popular capitalized phrase).

Here’s the complete example (just ~50 lines of code – bundled in project download):

Q&A Running Service Example

Keep in mind that this is just a quick proof of concept to hopefully showcase the power of BMF and the idea of Open Web Search.

If you’re interested in learning more about this Q&A system (or how to improve it), check out AskMSR – the original inspiration behind this example.

Also, shoutout to Sam for his very popular Yuil example, which is powered by BMF + GAE. The project download linked above is aimed to make it hopefully easier for people to build these types of web services.


Filed under Boss, Code, Computer Science, CS, Data Mining, Databases, Google, Information Retrieval, NLP, Research, Search, Yahoo

34 responses to “Yahoo Boss – Google App Engine Integrated

  1. Ian

    I cant help but comment on this.

    who invented the internet ? returns
    al gore


  2. haha.

    al gore seems to be behind a lot of things …

    who invented global warming ? returns
    al gore

  3. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Yahoo Boss Google App Engine Integrated

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  6. Ben

    who is president?

  7. Bart Burggraaf

    Why is this better than just using the google search api to do queries on instead of BOSS (sorry not that technical, trying to understand).

  8. Vik

    it’s a good question

    basically 5 things
    (1) unlimited queries
    (2) no restrictions on the use of the results (blend, re-rank, remove, put it on a map)
    (3) control attribution
    (4) google’s api is more of a display as is api
    (5) yahoo boss is going to open up more data via the same api’s

  9. Pingback: Coder links Yahoo search, Google App Engine « IT Spot

  10. Question: Does BOSS presently support querying on Yahoo’s Ask and Answer content library found at If so, can request and responses be limited to this data set

    Thank you

  11. Pingback: Coder links Yahoo search, Google App Engine | Blogging

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  15. Vik

    Steven – Not yet. Right now the best way to do that is through a BOSS web search using

    Also check out the sites parameter in the API.

  16. Regarding the 5 points you wrote that BOSS has which Google doesn’t, as far as I know those are not true. There is an API which returns nice JSON formatted strings and have no limits. You don’t even need a key to use it (although they recommend it for debugging purposes). I did not see any restrictions regarding what you can do with these results. You can use it for things other than display, since it’s JSON.

    For example:

    It’s described more here:

    Don’t let the title “AJAX Search API” fool you, that’s only half of it. 🙂

  17. Vik

    yea that’s a great api offering.
    some of my points were selling points and maybe not differentiators

    however, if you read the terms of the google ajax search api, there are noticeable differences (mainly how you can use the results)

    1.3 Appropriate Conduct and Prohibited Uses. The Service may be used only for services that are accessible to your end users without charge.

    You agree that you will not, and you will not permit your users or other third parties to: (a) modify or replace the text, images, or other content of the Google Search Results, including by (i) changing the order in which the Google Search Results appear, (ii) intermixing Search Results from sources other than Google, or (iii) intermixing other content such that it appears to be part of the Google Search Results; or (b) modify, replace or otherwise disable the functioning of links to Google or third party websites provided in the Google Search Results.

    with boss we are encouraging users to blend and re-rank results and in fact providing tools to do so (mashup framework)

    don’t let “json api” fool you 🙂

  18. ravi

    i had 2 apples and i ate 1, how many do i have .. Answer: 3.

  19. Vik

    nice catch. yep, didn’t do any query text normalization. when i get a chance will try to fix it.

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  22. Really cool idea. Just wanted to give you a shout and let you know that I implemented it in PHP

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  28. sohil

    Nice post .. Thanks for contributing to internet community

  29. Matt

    If you’re looking for a quick introduction to the Google App Engine check out

  30. ramesh

    I guess everyone got the answer today for why to use Yahoo Boss with GAE. Thanks Vik.

  31. Pingback: Build an Automatic Tagger in 200 lines with BOSS « zooie's blog

  32. suman

    is dere any sandbox account? unless my application is ready i would not be hosting it. so in this scenario how would i get app id?

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