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AWS: Can You Do It Yourself?

Yes you can. Of course you can! One more time with feeling: how to create AWS resources.

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The query string for ACP Web/Amazon:


seems to be off a little. If you try 'media player' the result is:


instead of:


I can't figure out what I should change it to. It seemed just to search music at Amazon.

If you search 'iPod touch' it's fine but not if you search just 'iPod'.

ACP Web Services rocks and I use it all day long. The ACP Service Browser is so versatile.



If you end up (correctly) with the following:


Then all you need to do is strip the '&x=6&y=17' and unescape the string, right?


Thanks very much for writing.


Companies change their database organisation all the time. That's the whole point of the ACP Web Services: that you can change with them. You don't have to wait until someone from on high condescends to update their software. You already have the software - all the software you will ever need. All you have to do is change your search queries when the websites change theirs.


Anatomy of an AWS query.

As long as websites use HTTP GET for their searches you'll always see gobbledegook like the above in your location bar when your search operation completes. And somewhere in that gobbledegook is the term you were searching for.

The point is no external application can determine where in that string your search term is located. But inasmuch as the order of the 'arguments' is not important - they all have names - then you can reorder things any way you like. And make sure your own search term is at the end where the ACP Web Services can find it.

Take the above (redacted) AWS query string for Amazon.


Put 'media player' on the end of it and see if it works. [Just click the below link and see if your browser takes you were it's supposed to.]

www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=media player

[Note: the above is a simulation only. The ACP Web Services automatically add percent escapes and prepend web schemes.]

A lot of this is admittedly guesswork but it's incredibly easy to guess correctly. The original (correct) search string again - with certain characters highlighted.


That '%3D' has to be unescaped. Unescaping is the opposite of escaping - the opposite of adding percent escapes. URLs need percent escapes to turn 'illegal' URL characters into hexadecimal sequences that are 'legal'.

The above string results namely in the following when percent escapes are added.


Note the '%3D' has now become '%253D'. The '%25' is the percent character ('%'). And that's not what you wanted. Try clicking on that URL - it won't exactly take you where you want to go.

So unless 'Pimp of the Century' is a next generation media player you're going to have to unescape that '%3D'. '%3D' is the equals sign ('=') so fortunately this time the unescaping is easy. [The ACP Text Services include an 'unescaper'.]


Next it's the dag-tag '&x=6&y=17'. Can that be important? Try removing it and surfing to Amazon again. The URLs aren't the same but you'll end up with the same search results.


Next it's to find where your search term is located and move it to the end of the string. But gee whiz in this case it's already there at the end! So you just remove the term itself and you now have a working robust viable ACP Web Service for searches at Amazon US.


Can it be difficult to create the same string for Amazon UK? Hardly. Replace the 'com' with 'co.uk'.


The same goes for many other Amazon sites. Try this link to see a few.


So what's with the 'aps'?


The URL itself declares it as the 'search-alias'. Try surfing to the Amazon page again and experimenting with the search combo box. As you change your selection on the left and click 'go' the 'search-alias' value in your URL will also change.

This makes it very easy to create specialised ACP Web Services for all the thirty departments of Amazon.

Apparel & Accessories, Automotive, Baby, Beauty, Books, Cell Phones & Service, Electronics, Everything Else, Gourmet Food, Grocery, Health & Personal Care, Home & Garden, Home Improvement, Industrial & Scientific, Jewelry, Kindle Store, Magazines, Movies & TV, MP3 Downloads, Music, Musical Instruments, Office Products & Supplies, Shoes, Software, Sports & Outdoors, Toys & Games, VHS, Video Games, Video On Demand, Watches.

Feel up to the challenge? The first ten readers sending in the complete Amazon collection win a free copy of the ACP.

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