Ian Lamont reported recently in The Standard that the CEO of The Generations Network, the company that owns genealogy site Ancestry.com, has pledged to open up the platform to outside developers.
In an interview, The Generations Network CEO Tim Sullivan said Ancestry.com was committed to opening up the platform, which has been developed over the last 10 years. "We will absolutely open up our platform," Sullivan said. "It's on our roadmap." However, Sullivan added that that it was unlikely to happen in the next six months, owing to other unspecified priorities for the company. He also did not describe what opening up Ancestry.com would entail, or how long it would take.
If the Application Programming Interface (API) is built and if enough developers become interested, this could become monumental news for genealogists. The only program that can interface directly with Ancestry.com right now is Family Tree Maker which is also owned by The Generations Network. However, once the API is in place, other programs and even other web sites theoretically could access the databases stored on Ancestry.com and use the information in many different ways. I can envision several new applications that could utilize Ancestry.com's data. However, there are many "ifs, ands, and buts" between now and a date when all this could happen. Don't hold your breath waiting for this.
You can read a bit more about the recent interview at http://www.thestandard.com/news/2008/09/30/tgn-ceo-promises-open-ancestry-com-developers