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Yahoo! has launched a new system called Fire Eagle. Fire Eagle is a location brokering system that allows users to share their location information with sites, services and people in a secure manner. The service allows users to update their location information and have complete control over how and with whom they share their information. Here’s a simple diagram of how things work:

 

The Fire Eagle API can be accessed through web, desktop and mobile applications. There are APIs exposed for C#.net, PHP, Perl, Python, Javascript and Ruby. Oddly enough till now no Java API has been published. Hopefully Yahoo! would make one available soon. 

The Fire Eagle web site describes how the API can be used and also has a couple of demonstration applications in PHP and Python. In a nutshell, a user application needs to authenticate itself to the Fire Eagle service and then use the exposed APIs to deliver functionality. The demo apps show in reasonable detail how this can be done.

A possible use

Imagine you are at the center of a city and want to meet your friends for a drink in the evening. This is now possible using the Fire Eagle API. An application can be created where a user can add friends to a list. The application can then be used to query which of the user’s friends are near the user’s present location. Also a list of restaurants can be displayed along with this information. Once the user has this information he/she can quickly broadcast a message for the proposed rendezvous. Quite cool!

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