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OpenSocial 2.0 Gets Some Traction in the Enterprise

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OpenSocial 2.0 comes with new features – new container, OAuth 2 support, embedded experiences, activity streams – and it has got some support among enterprises – Attlasian, Cisco, IBM, Jive, SAP-, as an alternative to Facebook platform.

OpenSocial is a set of APIs meant to support inter-communication between various social web sites. The idea is that a developer writes an application that runs on all websites implementing the API without modification. The framework relies on Google’s gadget mechanism, such an application being HTML+CSS+JavaScript code inserted into an XML envelope. The gadget then can be loaded and executed on a website implementing a gadget container. The Apache Shindig project was created to be a reference implementation of such a container.

Announced in 2007, and embraced by several social companies such as Hi5, MySpace, orkut, Netlog, Sonico, Friendster, Ning, and Yahoo!, OpenSocial was Google’s vision as a general platform for social computing that would eventually gain large adoption and stand against Facebook’s domination. But it did not get the critical mass needed. It started with many problems. Wikipedia mentions that in the beginning only Google had a container available, running inside Orkut, a social network that never received wide adoption. Many of the gadgets did not run properly, encountering all sorts of errors. Also, the security mechanism was weak enough to be cracked in less than 20 minutes, an attacker being able to modify an user’s song playlist.

Nonetheless, Google is still pushing OpenSocial, and the latest version 2.0 gets new features that makes it more attractive for the enterprise, and the standard has been embraced by Alfresco, Attlasian, Cisco, eXo, IBM, Jive, Lockheed Martin, SAP, SocialText and others who have built containers for it. Following is a list of new features recently announced:

  • Activity Streams support: a mechanism for defining rich and detailed social activities
  • Simplified gadget format
  • Embedded Experiences: running a service in a gadget
  • OAuth 2 support – it is in incubating mode since the API is not fully ready
  • Common Container – a new specification for the container that enables a better interaction with gadgets – also in incubation
  • Deprecated support for ATOM, since it was not used in practice

It is likely that Google+ for businesses will support OpenSocial 2.0, according to Dion Hinchcliffe. Other enterprises, such as those mentioned before, will probably implement it inside their organizations, but it is unclear if OpenSocial will get enough traction worldwide to compete with Facebook.

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