Developers: Google's OpenSocial Needs Tuning

Developers don't seem worried that OpenSocial will splinter if partner sites add too many proprietary functions to their containers. "I think it should be reasonably easy to write apps that run on all social-networking sites that support OpenSocial without much modification," McCormick said. "The core of OpenSocial contains the most important parts of the social-networking experience ... Anything which does end up adding something drastically new and wonderful will more than likely become part of the standard anyway."

Regarding the technical bumps, Google was clear that the first version of the OpenSocial APIs, labeled 0.5, was far from final, and that it was putting it out in the market in order to get feedback from developers. Now, with version 0.7, Google says that developers can create production applications. Moreover, OpenSocial's technology will continue to improve. "If it turns out this round of OpenSocial provides good applications and we want to get to stellar applications, we'll enhance it," said David Glazer, an engineering director at Google.

The server-side REST API is also coming, but Google and its partners need to agree on the exact way it will be done, Chanezon said. "It will be super-useful for mobile applications," Chanezon said. Mobile phones whose browsers aren't powerful enough to run the OpenSocial Javascript APIs will take advantage of this REST API to get needed data from a server.

Google is also working on a security technology for OpenSocial applications called Caja, which the company calls an open-source Javascript "sanitizer" that aims to provide a security layer to prevent the spread of phishing scams, spam and malware via applications.

Also in the works is Shindig, an open-source reference implementation of OpenSocial overseen by The Apache Software Foundation, whose purpose is to let Web site operators implement an OpenSocial container in a matter of hours.

Meanwhile, Google's social-networking site Orkut will soon make available OpenSocial applications to its end-users, as will some of the other participating sites."That's what we're looking forward to: opening the doors and watching the party get started," Glazer said.

AOL's Userplane, a maker of Web-based communication applications, has been involved in the OpenSocial effort and is eager to see it continue to evolve, said Userplane CEO Michael Jones. "As application developers, we're excited about reducing the code we have to write, so I love the concept behind OpenSocial," Jones said.

"Although it has some uncertainties, I feel we're seeing an initiative that can have a great role in the future," Santos said.

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