Google Announces the OpenSocial API


Google has announced OpenSocial, a new open API for social networks. The new standard will allow developers to create Facebook-like apps on any social network site that implements it with the same calls.

The open API will have three parts

  • People
  • Storage
  • Activity stream

All of these calls will have a GData counterpart and they will use HTML and Javascript only. Google is considering adding OAuth (Radar post) to the API.

On Thursday the following links should go live:

Google’s launch partners are hi5, iLike, Slide, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Ning and SixApart (the largest). Check out Techmeme, Techcrunch, and the New York Times for more coverage.

Google will be holding the first of their developer CampFires at the GooglePlex this Friday to explain OpenSocial. A CampFire is Google’s new method of disseminating information to developers. These events will be invite-only and will include about thirty developers. Video of the event will be available in the days following.

Google’s OpenSocial API will gain traction with a lot of social networks, but I doubt that we will see Facebook or MySpace supporting it. Both are large enough to require their own API. I’ll be curious to see how each site extends the OpenSocial API and how that affects adoption and app creation.

Patrick Chanezon, a Google evangelist, will be giving a technical talk on the OpenSocial API Tuesday, November 6th (next week) at the Web 2.0 Expo Berlin.

  • Developers will have to work on new API again.

  • Is this just another widget platform? Or is it the first step towards the open social graph? I guess I’d assumed from the pre-launch hype that it was the latter, but all I’m really seeing right now is the former. Am I missing something?

  • Why would a social network open their gardens’ doors? What would be there incentive?

  • Hey wait! How do I get an invitation for the campfire?

  • There are huge incentives to open the garden doors for all concerned. Here are just a few thoughts on what it could mean for businesses and for Google:

  • Jim Bob

    Are you early on the press release? The APIs site is returning a 404, which usually means they were not expecting it to be released yet.

  • Google was originally going to announce OpenSocial on Thursday of this week. When it got announced early they sent me the press release. It included the URL. That’s why I mentioned that the URLs would be available on Thursday.

  • So is google addressing the issue of data aggregation? For example, say you have a profile in 3 social networks {Ning, Orkut, and LinkedIn} but not in Hi5; How does the application using the APIs know which one’s to check for data? I think one of the next steps needs to be for designers to begin thinking about the web in terms of a single “disk/db” abstract model, and the API will allow for them to say “give me all {friends, images, videos} of openID N” and it pulls them regardless of server or network. Just like programming at various layers of say the OSI Networking Layer model, at each level you think of the data in different abstractions, and I think thats where we will end up going here.

  • I will be interested to find out how this fits in to Googles Social Web plan, maybe it was an idea formulated by the guys at Jaiku?. It is good to have a common API – makes things easier.

  • Complete Press release is posted here at weseepeople. But no link to the source.

  • Mark Rose

    How do I get an invite? I’m one of the top developers on Facebook who is local!

  • How about provision for users of all these platforms to use opensocial to migrate across different platforms / social media applications

  • Hello Guys/Girls, if there are any developers on here who are excited about getting their hands on the OpenSocial APIs (I know I am!), I have made a website/forum for discussion, would be cool to get a few active members to get the website going

  • thierry

    Google’s launch partners are hi5, iLike, Slide, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Ning and SixApart (the largest) … and Viadeo : : European and China Social Network => 3 millions members.

  • Yes maybe Facebook will not support OpenSocial but I am pretty sure on of the developers or even Google itself can write an application to integrate them. :) Why not?

  • Ginsu2000

    Sounds like the company that fired me, has taken my best ideas to Google and is gaining traction.

  • clifford harris

    i love sitting around the digital campfire roasting binary chestnuts and playing my virtual guitar…….

  • Very clever! Facebook will not like that.

  • Now the Social Networking plattform will getting more drive. Facebook with M$ vs. Google with openSocial API ;-) – Welcome to the Fightclub …

  • Myspace have today announced they will support it. Looks like we have ourselves a standard!

  • A few questions I haven’t seen anybody raise yet:

    1. Are these APIs / Protocols going to be standardized by any international standards body (ECMA, OSI, IETF, etc) or will the always be under Google’s control?

    2. What will the terms of use be? Eg, if I want my social network host to support OpenSocial, what are the license terms to implement OS?

    3. Will Google provide any implementation of the protocols for (server side | client side | both | neither)? If so, how will they be licensed?

    Personally I *think* this sounds like a good thing in general, but until they actually release whatever it is they’re releasing, I worry that a lot of us are putting the cart before the horse.

    Finally, if anybody is interested in building a truly decentralized, federated social networking platform (Open Source, of course) see

  • Morten Karlsen

    Why wold anyone pair ther professional lawer CV at Linked in with ther private dragstar profile at muspace / facebook ?

  • Get started with OpenSocial development right away. Check out the OpenSocial Garage Forum and Wiki at

  • OpenSocial may be an interesting concept, but like the rest of the whole Web 2.0 fad, it’s hyped up and under-delivered. I found a blatant XSS vulnerability in OpenSocial on Ning, check out my blog for the details. One day investors will wise up…

  • OpenSocial may be an interesting concept, but like the rest of the whole Web 2.0 fad, it’s hyped up and under-delivered. I found a blatant XSS vulnerability in OpenSocial on Ning, check out my blog for the details. One day investors will wise up…

  • Google has their mitts in everything. They just dropped the soap api with no announcement and left people hanging last year. This may not be as close to home for them but I feel burned a little.

  • There are just two official Launch Partners in Germany, wow!

    Google just welcomes the german teams of the Amiando AG & Xing AG in their opensocial initative, congratulations!

  • Lawrence Goldstein

    Checkmate! Game over. Facebook is toast! Why? Because if Facebook joins Google’s OpenSocial they would be admitting defeat and become just another sheep in Google’s herd but if they don’t join they will die a slow and painful death. Why?Because Google is offering to host the apps that developers create on it’s platform which means developers don’t have to pay for hosting fees or bandwidth. Many apps that became popular on Facebook caused their owners more money to maintain due to increased bandwidth than they were making from ads. As a result few saw any real profits.This addresses that problem. I can’t help but wonder what the executives who defected from Goggle to Facebook when Facebook was the flavor of the week are thinking now. Probably something like…oh s___!what have I done! Make no mistake this is a killer app. Advertisers only care about the bottom line and who can deliver it best. Thousands of websites using the same common API(not a day will go by from this day forward without a major website announcing they’re joining Googles/Myspace OpenSocial)or one website,Facebook using a variation of HTML that’s not compatible with anything. Myspace and Google together is a unbeatable one two punch. Besides, Facebook is still on a learning curve as can be seen by how they are constantly changing their developers documentation and rules for conducting business on the platform not to mention apps disappearing into thin air. Google/Myspace is the gold standard and will implement OpenSocial much more smoothly. Google/Myspace was in the widget game way before Facebook opened up to developers only six months ago. Facebook is a walled garden and it indiscriminately picks and chooses which apps get high visibility while it tweaks it’s platform to keep other apps from succeeding. Also they deny apps submission into their directory on a whim thus a large underground subset of apps some of which are very popular will migrate from Facebook where they were denied entry for no apparent reason over to Google/Myspace. Facebook belongs to a bunch of nouveau riche wannabe stuckup spoiled brats who thought they had the world on a string. Now they must eat humble pie and bow down and kiss the ring that is Google/Myspace. Oh well,so much for Facebooks 15 billion dollar valuation. They’ll be lucky if they can get 1 billion now. Why develope on Facebook which claims to have 50 million members when you can develope on Google’s/Myspace platform which has 200 million members…do the math. Stick a fork in it! Facebook is toast!

  • Sid

    OpenSocial is sure going to cause a revolution in the social networking arena. I believe its still in quite a nascent stage, but with so much momentum behind it, it should grow fast into becoming the default social network platform.
    Some sites have already spawned aiming to bring OpenSocial developers together. Check this out-

  • Wow… thats all I have to say. Glad I turned in my resignation with my company in Leggo my Eggo… looks like they’re toast unless they finally sell out and join up with someone. maybe it’s possible to eat some table scraps from myspace/google.

  • So what does this truly mean for smaller social network sites though.
    Can different networks share users in any way?? Can the networks pick and choose their apps they want to make default services as well??

  • benectar

    It’s been announced almost 3 months, the only network I see it is
    on is Google’s own Orkut and just handful of apps listed on

    Doesn’t matter what Google say about its Orkut penetration in Brazil
    and India, just look at this Orkut thing, it sucks, it is so 80s. Even
    Google employees use Facebook more than Orkut.

    There has been numerous hackathons (Google charge for that?! Come on!)
    trying to get cheap college free labors to write apps for them, but as
    a developer, I am not going to spend the time to rewrite my whole FB
    app while Bebo allows me to drop and play, especially when my app is
    not making me any money and I got my seconds of fame on Facebook.

    OpenSocial missed the mark and Bebo got the message.

  • Lots of applications Facebook-like are popping up these like the latest hot trend

  • nice to read,