Amazon shopping feature for GNOME Shell
Developer Alan Bell has coded a GNOME Shell extension which he has named "shopping search provider". Like the much criticised shopping lens in Ubuntu 12.10's Unity desktop, it extends the search function on GNOME 3's control panel so that GNOME Shell displays appropriate items from online retailer Amazon when a search is performed.
As Bell explains in his release notice, he quite likes Unity's shopping lens, through which he has already purchased several items. Thinking about aspects of the shopping lens which have come in for criticism led him to implement a similar function for GNOME Shell that avoids some of these more frowned upon aspects.
Rather than sending every search query to Amazon, the extension, which is available from extensions.gnome.org and runs on current versions of GNOME, only steps in when a search query starts with a pre-defined keyword followed by a space – the default is 'a'. The extension also uses an encrypted connection to communicate with Amazon, and the client-side code is available under an open source licence. The extension also permits configuration of the affiliate code, which determines who gets the commission from the sale.
In his release notice, Bell files these issues under "Why this is not very evil". Under "Why it is a little bit evil", he points out a handful of reasons why this may not be to some users' taste. The extension communicates with software on Bell's own server which is not under the user's control and uses Bell's own affiliate code by default. It is, however, apparently simple to set up your own server process for the extension. The server code wasn't available, but after The H talked to Bell, he modified the PHP server code so that the API keys are in a configuration file and has added it to the project's Github repository.