6 Essential Things to Know About Google’s OpenSocial

22 Nov 2007 (Thu)

GOOGLE’S NEWLY UNVEILED OpenSocial, “a common set of APIs for social applications across multiple websites”, has been adopted rapidly by social networks such as Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING.

Here’s a summary of a post with a similar title by Dion Hinchcliffe:

  1. OpenSocial offers the lowest common denominator, not the full richness of each platform. Like Java, write once, test everywhere is the name of the game for OpenSocial. Using the OpenSocial model, developers can create apps to run on dozens of different social networking sites, but can’t leverage the full capabilities of the site it runs on. To create a competitive product with the full richness of the underlying platform, custom coding is needed.
  2. OpenSocial is largely based on open standards. OpenSocial uses the essential browser open standards of XML, HTML, Javascript, and the data formats are all ATOM and RESTful/WOA. It also supports Flash content and functionality and most of the really popular development platforms, including Ruby on Rails. OpenSocial documentation and sample code all uses the Creative Commons licensing and Apache 2.0, and everything will be open sourced at some point.
  3. OpenSocial is a doorway to data portability AND potential security holes. A site that supports OpenSocial applications provides that application with all the people data in that user’s account. Their own info as well as their friends. Users can import/export their social data to/from sites and 3rd party app developers can knit together a person’s social data across other social sites that support OpenSocial. Michael Arrington has reported that the first OpenSocial app has been hacked.
  4. OpenSocial is simple but also capable of full-blown, rich Internet applications. And without server-side infrastructure. Developers can innovate with a few bits of markup and procedural code and drop it into the OpenSocial ecosystem and leverage the massive audiences and scalable infrastructure of OpenSocial compliant sites. OpenSocial even supports powerful interactive Web user interface models like Ajax explicitly. Amongst a few real gems, mountains and mountains of relatively useless, uninteresting apps will also be created.
  5. OpenSocial is from Google. OpenSocial will ultimately be very good for Google, if not outright bad for a few others (probably Facebook). The outcomes may not always be to the benefit of everyone playing under the OpenSocial umbrella. User beware.
  6. A new era in competency in social software is being ushered. Building successful social applications is a lot different prospect from building traditional business and consumer applications. Understanding people is the key to building effective social networking applications, and that is often the hardest thing for an industry obsessed with connecting with each other via 1s and 0s.
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Posted by J.K. in Open Source, Possibilities, Problems, Social Media, Technology | View Comments |

  • http://www.grandfatherclockmarket.com/Quality-Traditional-Grandfather-Clocks_page3.html djahna

    That’s a lot of goodies OpenSocial has to offer. No wonder a lot of big names in social networking are adopting it,,

  • http://www.dingmo.com Ed

    im excited about this, i think it has a lot of potential. personally i would love to see the day when i can almost sync up my profiles at different social sites. maybe have a little app on my comp i can use to upload pictures, or change my info and it updates for all sites. I think opensocial gets us closer to something like that.

  • http://coolinsights.blogspot.com walter

    There is definitely potential in Google offering an API that trascends multiple platforms and they are smart in doing that. The thing is how Yahoo! can compete considering that Google is already buying out or signing MOUs with the key social community platforms. That will be interesting to observe

  • http://www.escapesomewhere.com Austin

    That is a pretty good idea. Having multiple profiles everywhere with different sets of friends is kind of a pain at times.

  • http://www.fyu.in sarah

    google now have friend connect features which is cool but still needs alot of improvement compare to facebook

  • http://www.yyztech.ca Zoltan H

    I did a review on a book about writing apps for OpenSocial a few days back. I don’t know if it’s really writing for the lowest common denominator as it seems like you’re going to have to adapt your app just to handle the different screen sizes each social app lets you use.

    Link: http://www.yyztech.ca/reviews/book/opensocial-network-programming

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