Exploiting the benefits of existing web-hosted applications is becoming increasingly important for users, according to UKUUG council member Sam Smith.
"Users can build on applications such as Google by using published web-based application programming interfaces," he said. "Programmers can use these to solve problems they would not be able to resolve otherwise."
Using the Google Web APIs service, software developers can query more than three billion web documents directly from their own computer programs. The APIs are a free beta service, although they are only available for non-commercial use.
Other organisations offering specialist web services at the moment include the likes of online retail giant amazon.com.
Influential IT book publisher and open source activist Tim O'Reilly was due to speak at last night's event at City University. He suggested that Lamp (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl) would be the "Intel inside" of the next generation of computer applications, in what he called the "open source paradigm shift".