August 10, 2010 API

In case you haven’t heard, Microsoft Live Labs has (re-)launched (formerly, a free (high-resolution) image sharing service. If you’re a developer, the most important aspect of the announcement is the API.

Why It’s a Big Deal

Basically, the API lets you convert any image — PDF or even page — on the web into a multiscale representation, specifically a Deep Zoom image or DZI. Apart from sharing it as the default zooming embed, you can also incorporate this multiscale resource into your application or web site, using any of the existing platforms such as Deep Zoom (Silverlight & Windows Phone 7), Seadragon Ajax (JavaScript), Pivot (WPF & Silverlight), Seadragon Mobile (iOS) and OpenZoom (Flash), all connected through a common, open and documented file format.

Finally, this could bring true image streaming, very much like audio & video streaming, to the web. Personally, I wish that the service will do the same for high-resolution image sharing as YouTube did for video sharing, even if it’s on a smaller scale.
Similarly, it could potentially establish itself as a platform, bringing some of the benefits I’ve talked about previously to every author on the web, namely the power & simplicity of publishing the highest quality image you’ve got, irrespective of file size or target device.

Web APIs: A Brief Introduction

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, check out the brownbag presentation I gave at Seadragon last year:
Web APIs, Mashups & REST (PDF)


While unfortunately not currently being a part of the team behind, I’d still like to share with you a small contribution of mine: The ActionScript 3 SDK which I’ve implemented over the course of last weekend, taking advantage of the fantastic API documentation. It will hopefully fit right in there along with the official API helper libraries for .NET, Silverlight, Windows Phone 7 and the inherent JavaScript support, e.g. using jQuery.

The ActionScript 3 SDK lets you build exciting new applications using Adobe Flash, Flex and AIR on top of the service, optionally combining it with the OpenZoom SDK for super-smooth rendering.

I’d like to point out that the ActionScript 3 SDK wouldn’t have been viable if it weren’t for Live Labs’ generous support of very liberal clientaccesspolicy.xml and crossdomain.xml files on all relevant API endpoints, enabling an equal experience for the most commonly used client technologies. Enjoy. ActionScript 3 SDK

Download ActionScript 3 SDK 0.8 (32KB)
Browse Source
Read Documentation & Examples
License: Apache License, Version 2.0


Browse the front pages of the New York Times, between August 9 and August 15, depending on your time zone. The widget utilizes the API to dynamically create the corresponding multiscale image of the front page and renders it using the OpenZoom SDK. NY Times Demo View Demo | View Source


As an intern on the Seadragon team at Microsoft Live Labs, I was involved in the early design of the API (formerly API) but my deep respect and gratitude go out to the team — Aseem, Goldie, Karan, Jyoti, Jesse et al. — who executed on this idea and delivered this truly elegant first embodiment of it.