Yesterday, Microsoft announced a partnership with online auctioneer eBay that will give users access to eBay data from Microsoft Office Excel 2003 and Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003. Using new XML-based APIs, developers can now easily create customized tools that will let eBay customers manage their auction transactions from these powerful desktop applications.
   A Web package for FrontPage 2003 lets Web developers create custom, automated Web sites that use rich sorting and filtering features to link to eBay auctions and other data. For Excel 2003 users, Microsoft and eBay are providing a number of tools, including an inventory-staging component, automated listing sections for bulk uploading of auction listings, a historical-sales-page capability for reviewing prior sales, and live data analysis of ongoing auctions.
   "We're giving developers the tools they need to enhance the trading experience for eBay users," Gytis Barzdukas, director of Office System Product Management, said. "With the combination of Excel 2003 and FrontPage 2003, developers can provide users with powerful tools to analyze their sales and inventory in real time and build sophisticated and dynamic Web sites. The Microsoft Office System and eBay together are a great combination."
   A Microsoft representative noted some interesting scenarios these tools enable. "Solutions could enable eBay customers to utilize Excel 2003 to manage dynamic listing data on eBay--such as pricing and bids--and update the data automatically as changes occur. Solutions also could enable users to list multiple items on eBay simultaneously or create a Web site that displays their eBay item listings, using FrontPage 2003." Developers interested in these tools and the associated sample code can visit the eBay Developers Program Web site for more information.