Saturday, December 29, 2007

OpenSocial talk at Google

I went to an OpenSocial talk at Google about a month ago. Sorry it's taken me so long to write a summary. Hopefully it won't be completely out of date ;) Here are a bunch of random notes:
  • The talk was held in the same room that the Bay Area Python Interest Group normally holds its meetings. However, I knew right away that something was different when I got there a half an hour ahead of time, and the room was already filling up. During the meeting, I counted rows and columns, and estimated there were about 200 people present.

  • Google was making a big deal of the meeting. They were providing dinner, which they don't do for our group.

  • Looking at the JavaScript examples, the code looks strangely verbose.

  • Security is not defined in the spec. Dealing with third-party JavaScript is a challenge. Facebook's answer was FBJS. At least at that point in time, OpenSocial didn't have a well-defined answer to that problem.

  • One of the demos crashed.

  • They're taking the lowest common denominator approach and letting people build extensions on top of it.

  • There were something like nine speakers. One thing that was really strange was how many of them had strong foreign accents.

  • If you have an OpenSocial application running on multiple networks, and the same person has an account on multiple networks and uses your app on multiple networks, there's nothing implicit in the spec allowing you to know it's the same user. If one of the networks allows users to sign up without verifying their email address, it'd be really easy to masquerade as another user, totally sabotaging all the OpenSocial applications.

  • Facebook has a policy against caching a user's friends for more than a day. OpenSocial does not define any such policies. It's up to the individual networks. This may prove to be a challenge for app writers and policy enforcers alike.

  • OpenSocket is a Facebook application that acts as a socket for OpenSocial applications. It is iframe based. Facebook said, "We think it's cool." However, it may have legal difficulties because the apps that plug into it must obey Facebook's TOS, yet it has no way to enforce that.

  • The OpenSocial spec still has a lot of ambiguities.

  • Apache Shindig is an open source container for OpenSocial applications.

  • Many people obviously want a way for their identities to span networks. I've argued for a long time that OpenSocial was solving the wrong problem. I don't want something to make it easier for me to write apps for multiple social networks. I want something to make it easier for me to cope with the fact that my friends use multiple networks.

  • Strangely enough, Windows laptops dominated among the speakers. A few of the speakers used Macs, but it was a lower percentage than usual.

  • OpenSocial is an improvement because it let developers move away from screen scraping MySpace, and it lets users get away from cut-and-pasting code snippets into their profiles.

  • It was a very long meeting.

  • One of the speakers was German. He was writing an application to let users collaboratively solve jigsaw puzzles. He took a dig at Americans saying, "Collaborate? We just like to blow things up!" It wasn't a very popular application.

  • A lot of the people who were excited about OpenSocial are developers who were "late to the Facebook party" and viewed OpenSocial as a chance to be ahead of the curve.

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