Friday, October 9, 2009

Fettling Friday: Digging into Opensocial (Part 1)

Defining the social dimension of the social desktop has led perhaps unsurprisingly to needing to understand the scope and role of opensocial in this context. Opensocial was created by google with the help of myspace and was designed to allow social applications/networks to share their social data with each other. From a users point of view this means that the social applications that you use can have access to your tribe independent of the hosting network on that tribe. From a programming standpoint it is a set of API's that enable implementers to create opensocial containers (social networks like Myspace) and applications.

Specifically there are four API's
  • Javascript API for clients
  • Friends: People and relationship API
  • Activities: publishing and accessing user activity information (e.g live feed)
  • Persistence: simple key-value pair data for server-free statefull apps
The general application model is just like any other webapp in that there some interface that a user interacts with a client interface  (standalone application, gadget etc.etc) and this in turn requests data from the social service to be rendered at the client. The data requests are asynchronous utilizing ajax like semantics but the data request protocol adds a layer which can stack multiple requests into a single HTTP request thus optimizing the network utilization. I suspect that this does push more complexity at either end of the interaction but will need to dive deeper to substantiate and quantify this suspicion. Which I will cover in the next post for fettling Friday..

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