November 06, 2007

Google's OpenSocial API

Google might have failed to get the piece of Facebook cake, but they are on a roll! They recently announced OpenSocial, a set of APIs for building social applications. In May Facebook launched Facebook Platform giving access to developers to create applications inside Facebook. After this many third party applications by Microsoft, Slide, iLike, Digg etc have come up. Google with its new API is set to make bigger bang in social networking.

Google’s OpenSocial provides a common set of APIs for social applications across multiple websites. Unlike Facebook, which keeps its applicati
on platform closed, Google has opened up its API to any network that is ready to participate. So, Google is aiming at an open platform so that application lifecycle (create, deploy and manage) is easy and developers don’t have to make a choice from many different APIs. And if Google get control of this on web, they will be in the center! They will have control of the network!

So, with OpenSocial developers will be using the standard JavaScript and HTML to create applications that will fit to social networks like Orkut, LinkedIn, MySpace. Google says :

The ultimate goal is for any social website to be able to implement the APIs and host 3rd party social applications

Looking into the APIs.. there are three set of APIs:
  1. 1.People Data API
  2. 2.Activities Data API
  3. 3.Persistence Data API

These three are Javascript APIs. To access these APIs we can go for use client-side JavaScript API or use server-side RESTful data APIs. Here is the list of thing that Google promises the API is capable of:

  • Build applications without maintaining your own server
  • Build applications that include a server-side component (for offline processing and/or access from other websites)
  • Create brand-new applications
  • Expose existing web applications in the context of existing social websites
  • Add social features to existing Google Gadgets
  • Write one application that can run in the context of many different social websites

One major advantage of the new API seems to be the usage of existing technology. Google is not introducing any markup language like facebook (FBML). So, developers will be able to use the raw HTML,CSS for formating and display. There will be three types of people involved in using the OpenSocial: Host, Developer and End-User. Host will be any site that will allow OpenSocial to run on.

What is not clear is who will regulate and administer the Advertisements on the applications. Will developers have a hand? or the host will administer? We will have to wait and see on this. It will be interesting to see how Facebook will take it. And further, how sites adopting the API will extend, use and administer.

Oh!, and to checkout some OpenSocial stuff, try this!

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