March 27, 2008 – 10:03 am
Some people have been asking how OpenSocket, which runs Open Social gadgets directly within Facebook, fits amongst all the other frameworks that build some bridge between the Facebook and Open Social APIs.
The kind of ‘competing’ service we’re talking about here might be the Ruby framework which provides an interface lying somewhere between Facebook’s and Open Social’s, and takes care of translating that interface to the social network you want to run it on. Other comparisions might be to the widget distribution companies such as Clearspring or Widgetbox; they allow you to track and share images or flash across all sorts of web sites, including Facebook and all the other major social networks. While they have the breadth, however, they don’t really have the depth, and developers cannot use them to integrate with a social network’s friend lists and other essential components.
Yet another widget company has developed a proprietary HTML-style standard (or, more like, FBML-style standard) that it can translate to work on Facebook or Open Social sites. This is useful, although lacks the full functionality of either platform. Also, the proprietary nature of the standard makes it a risky choice.
All of these options allow you to save time and development effort when targeting both platforms. However, none of them offer access to the full functionality of both platforms.
Neither does OpenSocket. What we’re trying to do is bring a widget platform to Facebook, as an option to developers that is separate to the existing Facebook Platform. We believe that Facebook is not currently a widget platform, and that there is room for widgets alongside the full-featured apps that can be built on the native Facebook platform. So OpenSocket is not for developers building Facebook apps. It’s for developers who have built Open Social widgets, and want to see them running on Facebook – if only it was a widget platform.
We’re trying to make sure OpenSocket works naturally within the Facebook experience. But we’re not trying to replace direct programming of native Facebook apps. OpenSocket brings to Facebook all the features you are used to in other Open Social platforms. Beyond the initial spec, gadgets do not need dynamic hosting capabilities. Your gadgets are still client-side heavy, and proud to be that way.
So that’s who should use OpenSocket: Open Social authors. Not Facebook developers. Just Open Social authors who want their gadgets to operate on a Facebook widget platform.