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MySpace Announces Developer Platform

Blogger : Ajaxian Blog
All posts : All posts by Ajaxian Blog
Category : WSCF/WCF
Blogged date : 2008 Feb 05

In an obvious move to counter FaceBook’s expanding developer platform, MySpace, the top trafficked social network announced today the availability of the MySpace Developer Platform. News of the imminent release had been circulating for weeks and MySpace finally gave developers the keys to it’s playground.

The MySpace Developer Platform (MDP) allows developers to create applications that interact with MySpace members and their social data. With MDP you will be able to create compelling new products that integrate directly into MySpace pages and get exposure to millions of people around the world.

While still in it’s early stages, the sandbox will allow developers to start getting their apps ready. The fact that they’ve chosen to support the OpenSocial API should make it extremely attractive to developers that want to have some level of cross-social network integration.

JavaScript at the Forefront

As with FaceBook, JavaScript-based technology, especially Ajax, will play a crucial role in building MySpace applications. Acknowledging their issues with JavaScript exploits in the past, MySpace has tapped OpenSocial as a means to provide a rich development environment while protecting it’s users from the spammers and hackers that have plagued the site in the past.

As spammers propagated through the site, MySpace began blacklisting certain types of JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. We tried very hard to keep as much JavaScript as possible, but slowly and surely illegitimate users hacked away at our filters until finally JavaScript was banned entirely. That left third party application developers with only one dyanmic alternative: Flash. Sites like YouTube saw their birth as widely disseminated Flash decorations for MySpace profiles. Unfortunately, by this time such applications were completely locked out of the MySpace data stream.

So–why is MySpace doing OpenSocial? Because every time we locked down a new JavaScript exploit we were sad, because we knew that legitimate application developers were getting hobbled as a result. For every ten spammers we blocked, we were blocking at least a few people trying to make a living by entertaining our users in a positive way. The OpenSocial platform gives us a chance to let MySpace users play again–this time in a safer, more structured, but at the same time more flexible way.

Providing this level of abstraction should “hopefully” provide much greater flexibility for an expanded user experience especially with the new set of capabilities that will be included in the MySpace API. These include:

  • A suite of online tools for creating and publishing applications (and debugging them).set of RESTful APIs (provided in json, xml, and other formats as needed) that provide endpoints for browser-to-site and site-to-site interaction. These are implemented over the http protocol using a simple, intuitive uri scheme.
  • A mechanism for your application to exchange data with your own site.
  • A system for end users to find and install applications on their profiles.
  • Security mechanisms for protecting end users’ identity, as well as communications verification between MySpace servers and your site.

Apart from the security benefits, the use of OpenSocial is a big enticement as developers will now have the hooks to integrate between MySpace and other social networks such as Bebo, Ning, Plaxo and Six Apart. This alone could be a huge factor in future growth for MySpace which has seen FaceBook slowly cut away at it’s dominance. It will be interesting to see how FaceBook replies to this. While they’ve recently released their JavaScript library to the development community at large and have opened up their “walled garden”, their lack of support for a “standard” social network API and MySpace’s announcement may force them to reconsider integrating with OpenSocial; much to the pleasure of Google.

You can see a video demonstration of an OpenSocial MySpace Application, presented by Chris Bissell, Chief Software Architect at MySpace, here:

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